3 Tips to move to Acceptance

How are you? Now that we are back to near lockdown conditions in Trinidad and Tobago and we are seeing a surge of Covid – 19 cases and unfortunately an increase in the number of deaths, I need to ask, “How are you?

I reflect on how felt in 2020.  

I was nervous, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t think.,  I was annoyed Every time someone said to me “Oh I attended a webinar “or “I am learning this and that,” I thought how annoying. 

 I was restless I felt very confined. Days turned into night in a blur and I was not doing well.

This time in 2021 I am much better with the lock down situation even though the days are still a blur. 

 I have been through 2020. I know what to expect and I have learned a few things. 

I have learned to be gentle with myself this time 

I am comfortable with this lock down. I know that there is nothing that I can do to change it and all is well in my world.

Its is a decision that I made, I survived 2021.  Back then the idea of curtailed movement, masking and constant hand washing were very, very strange .  Now my muscle memory has kicked in because I have done this before.

My body and my brain have registered this event as something familiar.  I no longer fear it, because it is no longer new. 

Yes it still is strange and in some ways very familiar. 

I also notice that I am more hopeful than I was last year.

I have no inkling to return to the normalcy of pre-covid.  I remain excited about the future knowing that after the pandemic some things will have changed forever.

I accept that this is where I am. I would admit that at times, I watch myself to see if this is real or  if I am pretending.

I know that some of you are not on the same page as I am and that’s ok. 

In 2020, I was certainly not where a lot of my peers were.  I ended 2020  really disliking the word pivot.  

All around me people were saying pivot and I was like really.

Instead of pivoting , I stood still. 

What most people don’t understand is that before we can  pivot we need to be still.

Think of netballers or basket ball players.

When they get the ball they don’t move. One foot remains planted on the ground even as lift the other and turn. We need to be still before we can pivot .

You got to have a foot on the ground before you can pivot.  

If you are staying still good for you, then maybe you are getting ready to oivot.  You can’t move and pivot.

I’m sharing this to say to you that it’s perfectly ok if you are anxious and worried.  I get that. 

It’s not easy for any of us.

A lock down affects all of us. 

Some of us are still attending get togethers. Some of us are still having people over and some of us are pretending that things are as they were before the pandemic hit.

If you’re pretending that your life doesn’t have to change and that you can go ahead doing as you were before the pandemic, then you are resisting change.

Some of us are keeping busy because we don’t want to stop and deal with the negative emptions that we may be feeling.  And there are a lot.  There is the depression, the frustration, the despair, the hopelessness a, the sadness and .the fear It a lot 

This is a difficult situation.  It can take an emotional toll on you and we can’t run from the feelings 

Think of it this way when we run away from a problem we are also moving away from the solution.  

We have to go through the difficult patch to emerge on the other side. Avoidance does not work

We have to accept that this situation is out of our control and look for ways to enrich our lives even as the pandemic rages.

We are all in pain and we don’t have to suffer because of it.

Pain is a natural and inevitable condition for humans, and we can choose whether or not we will suffer.

I an inviting you to Acceptance. I am inviting you to make an active choice to allow unpleasant experiences to exist, without trying to deny or change them.

Acceptance is a method of encouraging action that will lead to positive results.

I am inviting you to sit with the unpleasant feelings, to be present with them and accept them.  Let the sadness wash over you, you can take it. Cry if you need to.  Feel the anger swell up in you and punch a pillow or yell into it.  You can take it, Shake if you must, run if you must just feel it.

Believe it or not when you allow yourself to feel the feelings you will begin to be more comfortable with the feelings. Now that you have felt the feelings you can move beyond them by trying these three tips 

1. Reframe

We can’t always change what we experience, but we can change how we think about these experiences. We can choose new ways of viewing the same situation. I like to make the reframe a game and wonder how can I look for what’s good or neutral about the situation.  I say to myself, “I love to be out and about and I like breathing more.

Instead of saying “I feel confined staying at home doing the same things day in and day out,” I admit  that I am having a difficult time staying in one place. And I say to myself that it will soon be over. 

2. Trust the process 

The more we fight against the restrictions they harder the disease will seem to rage and the more that we will feel hopeless and overwhelmed. None of us has the power to change the regulations nor can we change the fact that we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Look around the world, there are lockdowns every time there is a surge in cases.

When we accept a situation and let go of our need to control we will feel like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

We have to embrace and make friends with the situation.  We can move from feeling stuck and trapped into a place of recognizing “what is” and what can be done about it. 

3. Choosing Purposeful Action 

What actions can you choose to move forward in a positive, productive direction? 

We have to create the positive experience for ourselves. No one is going to do this for us.  What is your daily routine? Does it contribute to building a positive experience?

I journal how I feel most days.

Speaking to a mental health professional or a therapist or a counselor can also assist you to deal with your feelings.

You can also chat with friends who understand.

With these 3 tips I really want to support you to get through this difficult time.  It’s not easy and it’s not impossible to get through this.

It may sound silly but we can decide to accept the we are in a lockdown situation.  We are not in a unique position this is happening all around the world, and my hope is that you get through it.

Which of the three tips can you apply in your life?

My intention is to fuel you leadership spark so that together we can change the systems that we live work and play within.

Five reasons to fire a client

I fired a client today and my soul rejoiced.
I was hired to complete a project that was stalled for two years. This was a good contract. The work was challenging, the duration was to year end and the contract price would comfortably cover all my expenses well into the new year. It seemed serendipitous since I declared the week before that I needed a client to see me through the end of the year. Like a lot of good things in my life, this contract was effortlessly attained. A third party introduced us, the client, his staff and I had several meetings, I submitted a proposal, we signed a contract and I started to work.
When the work started, I started observing the client’s behaviour, listening to the staff and seeing patterns emerge. Slowly, I became aware that this was not the client for me, not did I want to serve the client, he was just not the client for me. As I reflect on the experience I realised that there were signs all along that shouted at me, even though I took a few weeks to listen to the messages.

Client has a pattern of changing consultants– When I reviewed the artefacts left behind by the previous consultants, I noticed that the client half-answered or evaded questions about the the same dubious practices. When I reviewed the files, I noticed that there were several references and recommendations about the same issues, which voided the argument that the client’s practices were due to ignorance.

The client’s business partners are not your type – Even though I was not directly doing business with the client’s partners, they were not people that I wanted to associate with or be associated with. Professional circles are small and the client notified several of his external stakeholders about my involvement in the project. Therefore by association I would be seen as dealing with the same characters as my client was.

Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde – My client presented a squeaky clean image, spoke a lot about God, and was polite and reverent in his responses to me. Yet the documents and his dealings with staff told a different story. The data did not line up with the client’s version of the truth, and the staff told tales of a short tempered man, who was harsh in his criticisms. The staff confessed that they were only staying for the duration of the project since they believed that they would benefit from interacting with me.

You bring the client home – When my sister confronted me and said, “ You talk about him a lot,” I realised that even though I was not complaining, the client, the staff and the staff’s tales were weighing heavily on my mind. I was not happy with the situation.

Forget about the money – Ah the money. It’s hard to ignore the lure of a pay-cheque when you’re not seeing another to replace it. I had to instruct myself “ Pretend that there is no money. Will you want to work with the client?” When I answered a resounding, “No”. I knew that it was time to remove myself from that equation.

It’s not about me – It is hard for me to walk away from a client, because I’ve been trained to complete what I have started, and to give service when it is needed. I sincerely believe that the collective intelligence and creativity (of me and my clients) are enough to solve almost any problem and that most people want to do better, and will do better once shown how.  This client reminded me that it’s not just about me. Regardless of my principles , my vision and my purpose I have to accept that people are entitled to their own agendas. Therefore when the client’s agenda does not mesh with mine I can make some choices – change my agenda to mesh with his, stay and promote my agenda or leave. In this case I chose to leave.

What clients do you need to fire? What would you do differently if the money was not part of your decision?

Maxine Attong is the author of two books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead Your Team to Win. She works with leaders to create more effective and efficient organisations. She is a Keynote Speaker, a Gestalt Organisational Development Consultant, a Certified Professional Facilitation, Evidence Based Coach and a Certified Accountant.

God in the work I do

Feedback from KF  “I enjoyed reading your ten tips and am very happy to see the commitment to ensuring that your spirituality is not separate . Very inspirational.”

This comment resonated deeply with me. When I’m speaking in general terms I replace the word God with Higher Power or the Universe to be inclusive and acknowledge that readers have different points of reference and beliefs.  When I speak of myself and my belief, then I use the word God, because that’s what I believe.
A few years ago, I would not have used the word God. It has taken a whole lot of bravery and some self talk to write the word, and in doing so make the declaration. It is not that I am by any means religious. I know a handful of prayers, even fewer biblical quotes and I don’t regularly attend church services. Yet I truly believe in God.
There was a time I thought that to talk about God while talking business was taboo, a bit bush and plain unscientific. As an accountant, I worked with numbers – numbers have no mystery, they are not fickle, the answer is always certain without any doubt. They are tangible evidence of decisions made and actions taken, and I could control the bottom line.  I would discourage any God talk, reject all chain letters and quickly exit the room when vocal religious or bible quoting persons entered the room.
As I developed my life’s vision and my orientation shifted to people, I saw a change in my belief system.

How can I enhance the lives of others if I do not believe in something bigger, more powerful than I?

How can I help people achieve their dreams if I don’t trust that there is an endless supply for all of us?

How can I assist others to trust their innate intelligence and creativity if I don’t have faith in love?

In working with people I have learnt a deep appreciation for the good and intangible being that provides the energy and wisdom for me to do the work that I do – and that for me is God.
And so with this new belief, I’ve learnt to listen to clients with my heart, to feel in my body what they feel, to follow their spirits as they soar and as they dip and to be honest and kind when giving feedback. This is not magic, this comes from me knowing and acknowledging  that I am not in control, that there is more to life than what I can see and feel, that there is a power that loves me, fuels me and gives me all that I need.

How do you see God/ Higher Power/ Universe in the work that you do? #Godworks

P.S. I still reject chain letters, avoid bible quoters and don’t enter into God talks that don’t celebrate the humanity of and in others

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.


What Would Jesus Do?

I was taken aback the first time I heard it, “I want to be like Jesus.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.  She said, “I want to love my neighbor, and turn the other cheek.”  As a good coach I pressed,”Tell me more.”

My client went on to explain that the reason that she puts others first, works long hours, gave more than she got, took less than she deserved, never quarreled, never argued, never stood up for herself, never set boundaries for others and accepted all that she got was because she made a deliberate choice.  In her quest to be more like Jesus she often put others first and saw about herself last.

I confessed to her that I did not know the bible so she would have to help me out. I asked, “What’s the story with him throwing over tables in the temple?” She corrected me and explained the story to me. “What’s the story about him arguing with some elders, when he was a kid?” She looked at me inquisitively and shared the story. “What’s the story about him and the woman who was being stoned?” She nodded patiently and told that story as well.

“What was Jesus doing in those stories?”, I asked. She sighed heavily.  We sat in silence  until she softly replied, “He was standing up for what he believed in, he was setting boundaries and he was saying No.”

“What do you think?” I asked.  She smiled and answered, “He was something else.”

As I made my session notes I thought how we can see one side of a story and make an entire belief system around it. I reflected on the stories that I hold on to, the things that I believe in and committed to look at the other side of them. Maybe I could see more than I see and unveil a whole new perspective.

What do your stories tell you?

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a Keynote Speaker,  Executive Coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an Accountant.

Faith in Selma

I watched the movie Selma today and I was reminded of the importance of having impossible dreams. This movie depicts the 1965 struggle of the U.S. Civil Rights movement for voting equality for the African American.
As I watched the movie I saw that Dr. Martin Luther King and the men and women who supported him were imperfectly perfect, just like me. Yet unlike me they were very brave, extremely courageous and believed in the impossible.
As I watched the movie I wondered,
“What would make someone believe that a few could change history?
“What would make someone risk his/her life for something they believed in?”
“What would make someone despite their fear act fearlessly?”
The answer for me is faith – faith in something stronger than humans, in something more inspiring than history, in something more powerful than a gun and something more formidable than a US President.
As I always do, when I look at someone I admire I look at myself in the mirror.
I am not brave, because I do not have faith.
I am not fearless, because I do not have faith
At times I doubt the impossible, because I do not have faith.
Today I am reminded of the power of faith.
Today I am reminded that faith will work to give me what I want.
Today I am reminded that there is magic afoot when I have faith.
Today I am reminded that I am brave and fearless and that I will achieve the impossible once I have faith.

What can you do if you have faith?

The three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of the Voting Rights Movement underway in Selma, Alabama. By highlighting racial injustice in the South, they contributed to passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile (87 km) highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery as showing the desire of African-American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression. “Wikipedia”