I learned a lot about myself, being flexible in the midst of unexpected stress and the beautiful teamwork spirit in others last week. This confirmed my continued passion to mentor and coach people of all walks of life.
My coaching colleague, Alice Bonhomme-Biais (formerly Team Lead of Google NY) and I had planned a much anticipated coaching trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Large companies, non profits, family legacy businesses were all on our much anticipated calendar. Then suddenly, due to nationwide violent political unrest, and a Travel Advisory Level 4 issued by the US Embassy, we decided to change our trip plans within 24 hours and head to Miami, Florida instead. We felt so bad for our colleagues in country, many having to close business activities for over a week due to rioting. And truthfully, we felt bad for us too. The countless hours of pre-coaching, planning and preparation, not to mention complicated trip logistics and customized seminars designed for the Haitian marketplace now needed to be put on hold – for the time being.
But, our collective professional relationships built on trust over a period of years really paid off. Our Haitian business and tech colleagues quickly connected us virtually with their trusted colleagues in the Miami area letting them know that we were on our way. This resulted in a featured Tech Teamwork seminar at prestigious Venture Cafe Miami, a coaching session with Empower Tomorrow and brainstorming session with Caroline from Caribbean Media Group and Haitian American Chamber of Commerce. We also had great introductory conversations with Dell Technologies Inc., who share our passion for positive empowerment and coaching of people. We even landed an interview with a two time Emmy award-winning producer from Speakqnetwork, the talented Reizel Larrea-Alvarez.
My Takeaway: I have to be flexible and not give in to stress when my agenda gets thrown off. I must always be prepared for opportunities to share my work and hang on for an adventurous ride! Our client base continues to grow in a brand new location we did not expect and gave us the opportunity to share our passion for business and technical coaching with others. The saying: ‘God is doing 10,000 things in your life right now and you may be aware of about 3 of them.’ really rang true for me personally and gave me renewed energy for wherever the road takes me next.
Tonight NBC – WGAL featured my work in Haiti in the 2018 “8 Who Care Awards”. I am one of eight winners in the region recognized for outstanding community and global service. So blessed!
For those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that I’m a girl who likes to wear a lot of hats: I am a coach, I’m a speaker; and I’m also an entrepreneur of a business called the Hertzog Homestead. We have an award-winning bed-and-breakfast, a spa cottage, and an event venue. Obviously juggling all the various components of the business, sometimes things happen I can’t control. Sometimes multiple things in the same period of time happen. So we are going to talk about what to do when things are completely out of your control and how your responses affect not only you but your colleagues, your customers, your family, and your friends.
Psychotherapist Aimee Moran came up with five ways that you can help yourself when you are feeling completely out of control of a situation.
- Determine what you can control.
Last week I had multiple things happen, one after the other that cost me money, time, and aggravation. I had a leak in my bed-and-breakfast that caused not only my kitchen walls to be damaged, but also my bed-and-breakfast suite and the closet. This resulted in a lot of painting and patching. I could control the painting and patching, but I couldn’t control the leak
- Identify your fears.
Often times when we are feeling insecure it brings up a lot of old things that we believe about ourselves, things that are incorrect that come from an unhealthy perspective. Sometimes we as adults spend years and years refocusing our fears into something more healthy. Identify what that thing is that you are afraid of and deal with the head trash before it takes over.
- Concentrate on your influence.
Concentrate on the things that you can change about the situation.
- Look for unhealthy coping skills in your own life.
When someone is feeling stressed out, one person might run to the fridge, another person might open up that bottle of wine on a Thursday night, for somebody else it might be binge-watching Netflix on a Saturday. Whatever it is for you, determine what that thing is. If it is an unhealthy coping skill, even if it’s not killing, you determine if it’s really healthy or not. If you’re not sure, talk to someone in your life who loves and cares about you and is going to be honest.
- Develop healthy affirmations.
Be kind to yourself. Sometimes stuff just happens; don’t beat yourself up about it, especially if you can’t fix it or it isn’t your problem in the first place. For example, last week when the kitchen wall was a disaster, I had to use this methodology myself by looking at that wall and saying I just painted that wall; it looks way better than it did a week ago when there was no leak.
Find that positive. This is a healthy affirmation that I’m offering myself and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The next time you feel out of control, the next time something comes your way that smacks you upside the head and leaves you wondering what you are going to do with the situation, remember these five tips and try to apply them.
How do you handle times when you feel out of control? How do you deal with the lack of control in your own life?
If you are struggling with this issue, I would love to help you. You can reach me on my website at kristenhertzog.com. I specialize in helping people to deal with getting more out of life in business. Determining what you can control is one of many challenges that we in the workplace have to deal with so you’re not alone; there is help out there through coaching and through talking with other people.
Have you ever been in that moment when you are planned and prepared, and suddenly you’ve got to shift gears because whatever you were thinking wasn’t the direction that you needed to go in?
Several years ago, I was asked to present at a school in Baltimore. I was asked to share interesting things about popular culture with lots of references to keep the kids engaged. I was excited and got online to research on musicians, sports, books; things I thought the urban youth would be interesting in learning about.
It was the first time I had been to that school and as I got closer and closer to my destination, I got farther and farther out in the country and I realized I wasn’t going to a Baltimore City school, I was going to a Baltimore County school. The demographic of student is significantly different in this rural school district versus the city school I was expecting.
As I pulled up to this school, I saw tractors lined up in the front and sign that said, “Drive your tractor to school day.” The presentation, as great as I prepared it, was not going to fly at this school.
Admit When You Have to Shift Gears
One of the things I had to do with myself, is admit this is not going to work. I had to shelf that awesome presentation for another time.
Access How You Should Do It Differently
The second thing I had to do in that moment, was to access the audience – look at my audience and talk to them first before delivering that presentation. I had to figure out what they cared about… What was interesting to them… What types of popular culture I should be referencing in the presentation that followed.
Wing It With Confidence
The third thing I had to do was exude confidence. Those kids did not have to know the mental gymnastics I had gone through just a few minutes before walking in the door of that school.
I want to encourage you in your mental flexibility:
- Admit when you have to shift gears
- Access how you should do it differently
- Wing it with confidence with poise and grace
And don’t forget to congratulate yourself – this isnt easy to do! How do you use mental flexiblity in the workplace? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
In this video, Kristen interviews Author and StyleOgrapher Toussant about sharing your business story. To find out more about Toussant and his work, please visit: http://www.toussaintphotography.com/home
“Dad, I want to be a live mannequin model in a department store. Would you take me to New Brunswick, so I can introduce myself to the store managers and see if they want to hire me to wear their clothes in the store window and pose like a mannequin?”
Although my Dad viewed this as naive and risky, with a high probability of rejection, he never showed it. As I walked into each store, with my resume and standard headshot in hand and asked to speak with the owners, no one took me up on my offer. I was 13. Risky – yes. But what did I really have to lose?
After high school, I landed an acting job at the Sight & Sound Theatre, the largest faith-based theater in the nation. With live animals, large casts and crews, spectacular pageantry, the New York Times called it “Bible Broadway”. In 1995, I was cast in a show called the Splendor of Easter, a spring production that featured dancing and singing woodland animals in Act One and the story of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection in Act Two. As a female, supporting cast member, there was little for me to do in Act 2, as the story focused on the disciples and Jesus, so I would put back on my red polyester vest and bowtie and head to the back of the theater to help usher customer’s back to their seats after intermission. Then I would watch Act 2 on a folding chair in the back of the theatre. I made it my habit to analyze the characters and observe the audience’s reactions as the story unfolded.
One day, I heard a folding chair open quietly next to mine. I was startled to see Glenn Eshelman, founder and owner of the Sight & Sound enterprise, sit down next to me. I knew this man to be a visionary, a photographer, producer, artist, writer, and a man of strong opinions and mission. He built his legacy from the ground up. He nodded his head acknowledging me. In his hand, he had yellow tablet and pen. We watched the show in silence.
A few days later, he returned with the same folding chair with the same yellow notebook. As the first musical number of Act Two began, Glenn leaned over next to me and whispered: “Do you like this show?”.
My thoughts were jumbled. Did I like this show…? Did I really like this show? Well Mr. Producer, Owner and Signer of my paycheck, I certainly like working here. I really like getting a paycheck for performing. I like the clout that this place gives me.
But I did not like the show. In fact, I hated the show. The characters were clunky, the audiences did not respond well to it, and the woodland animals in Act One were painful to watch.
I was at a crossroads; there was a potential risk. Would I tell him the truth? I had been sitting in the back of the theater for a month making my own mental notes of things I would change if I were the boss.
I took a breath. “No, I do not like the show. I think we can do more with it.”
“What would you do differently?” he asked, pen in hand.
I was nervous. Here I was, I was in my very early 20s, and this was my first professional job. I was a contracted supporting cast member, with little acting schooling. I moved 100 miles from home to work here. I had friends, a budding romance, and the respect of folks back home.
But I wanted to be honest. So, I shared all the things I did not like and some things I did. I gave him alternatives to things that I did not like. He scribbled a few notes on his yellow tablet and at the end of the show thanked me for being observant and went back to his office.
About week later, our entire cast of 60 people, the live horses and various live animals were called in for a “special rehearsal”. As I stood on stage, as Woman #3, I watched as directors made many of the exact changes I suggested to the Owner a few days before.
The show became a bit more interesting. The actors seemed pleased with the recent changes, and audience numbers picked up. Shortly thereafter, the owner began tapping me asking my thoughts on various new productions in the works. One day, he asked me to join the Producing Group for a brainstorming meeting on a new show, The Miracle of Christmas. Risky, but I said yes. I walked into his corner office and there at the conference table was a group middle-aged male executives. I was 22 years old and beyond a few articles for local magazines, I had never written anything professionally before.
After the brainstorming meeting, the Glenn asked me if I would be willing to become a member of the producing group to help write the script for the Miracle of Christmas. He said they needed a young woman’s perspective and voice into the script. I was dumbfounded. I did not feel qualified. I was worried about what cast members and directors might think. If I said yes, this was going to change things. There was risk again. Staring me in the face.
But for some reason, Glenn believed in me and saw my potential. He was encouraging and empowered me. Over the months that followed, it was challenging and rewarding to work in collaboration with these men and to see my own voice and perspective on the page. Accepting that risk was without a doubt a building block for my professional career and personal confidence.
This week, over 20 years later, I find myself sitting in the 2,000-seat theatre, watching the Miracle of Christmas live on stage. It has been tweaked a bit over the years, but most of the show I can still quote word for word. Beside me sits my supportive husband, daughter, my awesome parents who always believed in me no matter what, and my 10-year-old son, who sits with wide-eyed with wonder as he watched a production that I played a small part in bringing to life on the stage from its earliest inception.
In hindsight, that cold Spring afternoon when I was asked “Do you like this the show?”, I could not have said my response would be a stepping stone in my varied career. Using emotional intelligence to assess risk in the moment and confidence in what I can potentially bring to the table has repeated itself time and again in my professional career. As business people, we cannot allow potential opportunities to pass us by because of our own neurosis, lack of experience, or insecurity. We only get one life and we must be determined to make the most of opportunities no matter where and when they present themselves.
Kristen Hertzog is a Performance Coach, award-winning Speaker and COO of Hertzog Homestead Bed & Breakfast, Event Venue and Spa Cottage in Lancaster County, PA. www.kristenhertzog.com