Resource Recommendation: Lynda

Today I’m recommending as a source of training material and continuing education. This site requires a subscription, but many libraries have a subscription that provides their patrons free access. Check with your local library to see if you can sign into Lynda using your library card.

Things I like about Lynda:

  • There is a Lynda app, so you can access their training materials through almost any device.
  • Lynda offers a wide variety of courses geared towards the development of business, tech, and design skills.
  • Lynda offers documentaries, short informational videos, and entire classes, so you can choose the format that works best for you.
  • Lynda issues a certificate for certain programs of study, which can be used for continuing education credits or added to your resume or LinkedIn account.

Monday Morning Inspiration

Happy Monday!

It’s a cold, wet morning where I am, and I am just getting over one of the worst symptom flares I’ve had in a long time. Several minutes ago, I was sitting here staring at a blank WordPress screen, wondering how on earth I was going to inspire anyone else today when I can’t even inspire myself. Then -ding!- I got an email from Seeds4Life, a blog that specializes in inspirational quotes. Here is their entry for today:

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” – Robert Anthony

Please read the full post here.

I don’t know about you, but I feel empowered now. Thank you, Seeds4Life!

Resource Recommendation: Training Magazine Network

It’s Tuesday!  As promised, here is this week’s Resource Recommendation.  As always, I am not paid or compensated in any way for these referrals.

Today I’m pointing you to the Training Magazine Network. Here’s what I like about them:

  • They offer a wide selection of free webinars every month, most of which are relevant to educators, coaches, and trainers.  They are always interesting and well-done.
  • They keep me well-informed about upcoming training conferences (live and online).
  • They offer a free service called Path2X (or Path to Expertise) which allows me to log qualified TMN content I’ve studied such as webinars, white papers, and blog posts.  As I collect “Insights” from these resources, the bars on my progress chart grow to show my level of expertise across 14 different skill/knowledge areas.  There are helpful tutorial videos that demonstrate exactly how this program works and how participants can use this tracker in their careers.

There are other resources and services they offer, but these are the main reasons I use Training Magazine Network and the main reasons I refer them to others.

Have you used Training Magazine Network?  If so, leave me a comment about your experience with them.

Monday Morning Inspiration

Back in November, I offered training in Professional Development Planning. As a part of that class, I talked about SWOT Analysis. In this exercise, you jot down some of your strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O), and threats (T). Strengths and weaknesses are internal, things about you or your life that you can’t change and that can’t be changed by outside forces. Opportunities and threats are external, things about you or your life that you can change or that can be changed by outside forces.

In this post, I am going to focus on the opportunities portion of SWOT Analysis. Specifically, I want you to think about what opportunities life has given you.

Perhaps your opportunities are obviously positive. For example, you might have inherited or earned a large sum of money and thus be in a position to support a charity that feeds hungry children. Or you might have been asked to take on extra duties at work and thus have the opportunity to showcase your strengths and advance your career. Maybe you have recently met someone who needs a mentor in your particular area of expertise. It is easy to see the opportunities each of these situations presents. In fact, it is easy to see opportunity presenting itself in almost any positive situation.

But what about the opportunities that come wrapped in negative situations? It’s a lot more difficult to recognize opportunity’s knock when you are being bombarded with the noise of negativity. And yet people do it all the time. How many stories have you heard of someone who lost their job and used the opportunity to start their own business? What about those chronically ill patients who know they’re never going to leave the hospital but who go around bringing joy to everyone in the ward every chance they get? What about parents who tragically lose a child and, as a result, become advocates for a child safety cause?

The opportunities that present themselves through negativity like loss, illness, and tragedy are often not easy to recognize. But that is my challenge to you this week: Examine a negative situation in your life, and find the positive opportunities hidden there.

Get What You Need

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need
–The Rolling Stones

Learning to start sentences with “I need” was one of the most life-changing lessons for me. For most of my adulthood, I felt uncomfortable expressing my own needs. I thought that asking for whatever I needed was selfish and that asking direct questions was rude. In fact, I thought that beginning too many sentences with “I” was a sign of narcissism. When I learned to use the phrase “I need” and its companion “I feel,” it was liberating.

These simple phrases gave me the ability to say, “I need some space. Please give me five minutes alone, and then we’ll talk about this some more.” Or, “I feel like you’re not listening to me.” Or, “I need you to help me solve this problem because I feel overwhelmed.”

I expected this to make me feel whiny, selfish, helpless, and vulnerable. I expected everyone around me to reject me the minute I started talking about what I needed or what I felt. But it had exactly the opposite effect. It was empowering.

To my surprise, I found that being assertive about my needs and feelings gave me the ability to make direct requests. When others saw me taking steps to get my needs met, they perceived that I was in charge of myself, and because of that, they trusted me to be in charge of them. I didn’t have to demand anything. I could just make a direct request and be met with cooperation.

No one bats an eye when an assertive person says, “I need to speak with you privately. When is a good time for you?” Or “I feel like this situation is getting out of hand. What are your ideas for resolving the issue?” When you are assertive and direct, you become authoritative without having to become an authoritarian.

Is being assertive and direct a magic formula for getting everything you want? No, obviously that’s not possible.  If you got everything you asked for, it would screw up what someone else has asked for, because it’s impossible for everyone to have desires that perfectly align with each other.  Sometimes you get what you ask for.  Sometimes they get what they ask for.

I’m not giving you a spell to cast over your life to make it always go your way. I am simply encouraging you not to beat around the bush or play mind games.  Just ask for what you need – not in a demanding way, but in an assertive way.  “I need X.”  Simple as that.  You aren’t guaranteed to get what you ask for, but being assertive will get you more positive results than being demanding or using trickery or fear to get what you want.

Resource Recommendation: 10% Happier

I recently won a Goodreads Giveaway. Exciting, right? Maybe this is an omen of good things to come. Anyway, the book is Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, which has been on my to-read list for a few months now. After I received the book in the mail, I realized it was a follow-up to 10% Happier by the same author.

Since I have a Hoopla account through my local library, I checked out the audio version of 10% Happier (read by the author) and listened to it last week. It was an interesting, entertaining, and informative memoir about Harris’ unlikely journey into the world of meditation.

This week I am reading Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, and it is proving to be a helpful guide. Harris doesn’t take himself nor his subject too seriously, even though it’s obvious this practice has revolutionized his life. He is up-front about his own foibles and comes across with an “if I can do it, anyone can do it” air.

I believe him. While meditation is something I’ve experimented with for years, it has always seemed like a struggle, so I’ve always felt like I was “doing it wrong.” Harris has convinced me that what I was doing wrong was expecting it to be easy. He is very open about the fact that, for most of us, meditating is going to be more like fighting the elements than communing with nature.

Since publishing 10% Happier, Harris has confounded a company with the goal of making meditation accessible to the masses. This company has produced the 10% Happier app which claims to be the “Least Annoying Meditation App of 2017” and guides users through the pitfalls of learning mindfulness meditation. You can download the app for free and sample its wares before choosing to subscribe to the full content.

I probably won’t be using the app since I’m currently in the middle of simplifying my life by getting rid of subscriptions, but through the books 10% Happier and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, Harris has inspired me to re-ignite my dwindling meditation practice. His first book makes me feel like meditation is completely manageable, and more importantly, his second book shows me exactly how to manage it. I appreciate that, and I feel that you will, too. Check it out.

Monday Morning Inspiration

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend?

Mine was eventful. I completed the final MRIs and testing for a research study I participated in through the University of Arkansas Medical School, attended a Chamber of Commerce banquet, finished three books I’ve been ready lately, took my two youngest to see Peter Rabbit, and visited the zoo. The most intriguing part, though, was picking up crochet again after having zero interest in it for the past several years.

I learned how to crochet “granny squares” when I was a child and always enjoyed it. Then after a surgery in 2011, I needed something to do while in recovery, so I bought some supplies and a beginner’s pattern book and crocheted a bunch of stuff, including a blanket, a poncho, a purse, several flowery brooches, and a hat and scarf set. It was fun, and I was fairly good at it, but after my recovery period was up, I grew bored with crochet and moved on to other quests.

Until this past weekend. My husband purchased some yarn and hooks for the girls, and I sat down to show them how to make a granny square and ended up starting a project of my own. If it turns out as planned, it will be a large throw pillow.

Through this experience, it has been fascinating to see which skills came back to me automatically and which I had to look up online. It has also been interesting to think about how my approach to any kind of project has changed over the years. Most surprisingly, crocheting again has inspired me to return to other things I’ve dropped over the years and see them with fresh eyes. Will I like that book any better this time? Will that music speak to me now? Will that speaker’s ideas resonate with me at this point in my life? Will that dish taste different?

I have no idea how long this crocheting phase will last, but for now it is fun and relaxing and it gives my hands something besides doodling while I listen to audiobooks. Most importantly, it gives me a brand-new look at myself and my life, which I never expected but wholeheartedly welcome.

My challenge to you this week is to return to something you left behind and see it anew.

And smile!

Resource Recommendation: The LinkedIn Learning Blog

Welcome back to my Tuesday series: Resource Recommendations! Today I’m pointing you to the LinkedIn Learning Blog. (And, as a reminder, I don’t get paid for any recommendations I make on my blog.)

I’m sure you all know about LinkedIn, the social media website dedicated to professional networking. I’m sure many of you use LinkedIn to house your resume, connect with other professionals, and search for jobs. But did you know they have a blog?

The LinkedIn Learning Blog contains articles about how to improve professional skills. Pieces such as “7 Things Every New Manager Should Do In Their First Month On the Job” and “Want Something at Work, Like a Promotion or a Raise? Try the Upfront Close” can help you learn new skills, brainstorm new ideas, and establish yourself as a competent subject matter expert.

In some cases, the articles direct you to courses you can take via LinkedIn’s paid learning site, LinkedIn Learning. However, most of the articles simply offer free information, advice, and ideas.

If you are looking for ways to develop yourself or develop the people you lead, I encourage you to try the LinkedIn Learning Blog.

Monday Morning Inspiration

The above quote is from the book New Minimalism by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici.

In other places, I’ve seen this concept referred to as “priming yourself with complimentary content,” and I like both sets of imagery equally well.

Think about the belongings you amass. Think about the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, and the media you consume.

What harvest are you going to reap from those seeds? Does everything you put into your environment or your mind compliment a goal you’re trying to achieve or a state of being you’re trying to reach? How so?

The more intentional you are about what goes into you, the more intentional you can be about what comes out of you.

Seed yourself for the harvest you want to reap. Input content that primes you for the end result you desire.

Resource Recommendation: The BizLibrary Blog

I have been publishing Monday Morning Inspiration every Monday morning, and now I am going to start posting a resource recommendation every Tuesday morning. As a life coach and trainer, I am constantly finding great learning resources, and I want to share them through this series of Tuesday posts.

Today I’m going to tell you about the BizLibrary blog. (P.S. I’m not being paid to do so.)

BizLibrary is an online learning management system that businesses can subscribe to in order to provide training to their employees. However, I have no experience with that portion of the BizLibrary service. Instead, I enjoy their blog articles and their free webinars.

Their blog gives concise information about some of the latest business trends, and very often, the article ends with a link to a free webinar that explains more. For example, the most recent post on their blog (as of February 12, 2018) is titled “The Problem With Performance Reviews” and it highlights the fact that many companies are no longer using annual evaluations but are instead finding better ways to manage employee engagement.

That particular post ends with a link to a free webinar called “Making Performance Management Really Work.” I haven’t attended this particular webinar, but having attended several other BizLibrary webinars, I feel comfortable vouching for it. If it’s like the ones I have attended, it will be efficient and informative and will give you lots of good ideas for implementation and point you to other useful resources.

I have used BizLibrary’s free resources (the blog and their webinars) to kick off the research I do when I am developing a training session or making recommendations to my employer. I have also used the webinars to earn continuing education credits.

If you are trying to develop yourself as a business professional, a coach, or a trainer, I recommend the BizLibrary blog and their free webinars.