1-on-1: Clearing Mental Hurdles

The Experts Up Close
Keith Harrell is a speaker, best-selling author and corporate trainer with clients including McDonald’s, Microsoft and American Express. His books include the best-seller, Attitude is Everything.

Marvin Sadovsky creates leadership and communication training at Leadership Strategy LLC, and is also the author of special CD series The Science of Persuasion and Selling the Way Your Customer Buys.

Loretta LaRoche, an international stress-management and humor consultant, is founder of The Humore Potential Inc. Her clients include IBM and The New York Times. She is also a TV personality on PBS and a best-selling author, with books including Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal and Life Is Short, Wear Your Party Pants.


Q: My eighth-grade daughter has always enjoyed school and gets good grades but lately she seems less excited about her schoolwork. How can I help her stay interested and motivated?

Keith Harrell: There are two types of motivation—internal and external. For some people, internal motivation is a stronger driver than external motivation.

Internal motivation is what an individual feels is important in life or what makes someone feel good. External motivation is the words and actions of others that are directed at the individual. In your daughter’s case, her internal motivation for good grades may have been an aspiration for a certain future career or the bragging rights to say, “I got straight A’s.” Her external motivation for good grades may have been the recognition and praise she received from her teacher, family and peers.

Sit down with your daughter and ask her what were some of the motives that inspired her to get good grades in the past. Maybe those motives are gone now or not important to her anymore. Help her discover new motivations if the old ones are no longer valid.

Finally, ask her about some of her goals. Have her write down her goals and detail what it will take to reach them. Encourage her to do something every day to see that dream come true. Doing this will trigger her internal motivational drivers.


Q: A friend has gone through several personal crises lately, and she has trouble putting these things out of mind so she can focus on being productive and positive. Can you offer tips to help?

Keith Harrell: When people experience personal crises in life, the recovery time is different for everyone. There’s no set time frame for how soon someone should get through the challenge and bounce back. Therefore, be patient with your friend.

At this point, your friend needs to renew her mind. The human brain is like a computer. If you want a different output you have to feed your brain a different input. You do that three ways: through your eye gate, your ear gate and your mouth gate. Give your friend some motivational books to read or uplifting movies to watch (the eye gate). Offer her some audio books with motivational messages (the ear gate). When you’re around her, say encouraging things and help her create positive affirmations she can repeat on a daily basis (the mouth gate). The eye, ear and mouth gates lead directly to both the brain and heart, which are where feelings and emotions reside.

Also, help your friend produce a blueprint that will help her move forward. The blueprint is a plan of things she wants to do and a listing of the resources needed to do it. Have her write it all down, including where she is now and where she sees herself in six months, three months, and thirty days. What will it take for her to reach her objectives? This blueprint will help keep her on track even when she’s having a down day.

Loretta LaRoche: Women unfortunately are very good at going over and over things in their heads. It serves a purpose if you’re a surgeon, but for the most part it only serves to make you crazy. Tell her to take the energy she uses to review the problems and reframe it into finding solutions. Help her to brainstorm and write down three or four ideas that might be helpful for her to move forward.

Marvin Sadovsky: Sometimes it is useful to have professional third party facilitate in a “letting go” process. The statement about her putting the “things” out of her mind may not be a solution or possible because of the emotional connection or imagined emotional impact she has created internally.
With that said, here is a tip that she may find very helpful.
A.) When she gets focused on the problem she must take slow, deep breaths.
B.) While breathing deep she will imagine or visualize that her response to the crises is her creation and that she now creates a more resourceful response.
C.) Imagine a different and more resourceful response.
D.)Ask her to notice how life will be different as a result and have her thank her higher self for the respectful response from the experience and the acceptance of the experience.


Q: I worked really hard on a huge project at work and it was not well-received by my boss. However, it went over well with my colleagues. I’m still struggling with the reaction from my boss. What should I do?

Keith Harrell: Give yourself a new attitude by acknowledging the time and effort you put into this project and the positive feedback you received from your peers. You worked hard and you should be proud of that. If your boss has already given you constructive feedback on what could have made the project better, express your appreciation for your boss’s coaching and let him or her know that you’d like the opportunity to take on similar projects in the future. Or if you haven’t had that meeting with your boss, request one and ask him or her how you could have done better.

The key is not to miss the potential opportunity for growth and promotion. In reality, this might be a turning point in your career, because it caused you to look in the mirror and dig deeper into your skill set. By getting your boss’s feedback, you might discover that certain skills you thought you were proficient in could use some fine tuning, which in turn will make you a more valuable employee and more marketable when looking to advance your career.

Loretta LaRoche: It is not easy to handle rejection. Most of us desire individuals of any importance to us to accept us and what we do. This is not always the case. Your boss has the right to his opinion. You can meet with him and ask why he reacted the way he did in order to gain further understanding. However, that being said, we all need to learn to let go and move on. Otherwise you will drive yourself nuts, and your mood will be felt by those around you. Life is too short to make it a stress rehearsal!

Marvin Sadovsky: Your efforts and desire to do good work is recognized and appreciated by an aware boss. Pat yourself on the back for the accomplishment and completion. Then, ask your boss what he really wanted regarding the project.

Now, let it go and focus on the next project or a change in the one you completed. Remember to ask for your boss’s desired outcome before starting and make sure you understand what your boss really wants. Ask questions about the desired outcome to confirm. Another important item is to make sure your boss knows how to recognize when the desired outcome is delivered.


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