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08 28 2013

10 Steps to Personal and Professional Growth

Business Management Consulting, Business Success, Communication Issues, Corporate Therapy, Leadership Development/ Executive Coaching, Mergers: How to Manage Organizational Change

August 2013

1. Awareness 2. Dissatisfaction 3. Affirmation 4. Responsibility 5. Personalized Goal 6. Demoralization 7. Intention 8. Action 9. Self-Support 10. Sustained Change. An Established Habit

First, think of something you can do so well that you can teach another other person how to do it. Second, now think about the stages you went through on that mental and physical journey and the time it took to achieve your current proficiency. Third, now apply that understanding to this article and your professional career.

Anyone who has attained a certain level of proficiency in any endeavor, whether that be in a professional business setting, in academia, or in various sports and hobbies have all gone through and experienced a similar ebb and flow of struggle and growth. I have outlined these stages so that one may know how to more reliably attain the goals you have in your mind.


Awareness of existing behavior, including thoughts, feelings, images, sensations and actions that are experienced as problematic: For example:

A. Catastrophic thoughts: e.g., “If I express my true ideas and opinions my colleagues or superiors will think I’m stupid.” …..Or my VP’s, supervisors and staff won’t think I know everything and will not have faith in me….. or will try and take my position.” B. Distressing feelings: e.g., anxiety, depression, guilt, etc. C. Disturbing images: e.g., an image of yourself as ineffective in your position, unsuccessful leader or a poor decision maker. (this is also known in the early stages in one’s career or promotion as the “imposter” syndrome). D. Discomforting sensations: e.g., generalized anxiety, headaches, shoulder, stomach or back pain etc. E. Ineffective actions: e.g., procrastination, inhibition, ineffective communication (listening and/or speaking), poor decision making skills, poor managing or leadership qualities.

(I have worked with experienced Presidents, CEO’s and other leaders who were technically capable yet inadvertently unaware and on their way to, or currently in the midst of, sabotaging their organization and subsequent careers because of their “blind spots” and fear of working with someone through them.


Dissatisfaction with present behavior: This can either produce motivation for change or the extinction of awareness through various psychological and/or outside influence’s or “distractions.” e.g., denial, obsessive compulsive behaviors, excessive alcohol & drug use etc.


Affirmation of your present behavior’s original survival value: People will often justify the present behavior as needed or valued. I had a client who was a very smart woman and valued her ability to “multitask.” Yet her directors and staff saw this behavior as not valuing them, being distant, and not involving them in decisions. Inadvertently, projects fell through the cracks because she would often “forget,” communication between her departments became more strained because they all needed to stay on her “good side.” She did not fully comprehend the gravity of the situation until the President asked me to work with her and her division.

When this affirmation step is omitted, people frequently undermine (Sabotage) their motivation for change with self-blame or “finger-pointing” e.g., blaming others.

For example, let’s look at the two possible scenarios. Inhibition, placating, letting others always have their way (non-assertiveness) might have been an affective technique for a ten year old child when dealing with a harsh and critical parent. Conversely, the other extreme can be just as damaging as when that child took the abuse at home and then redirected that anger toward others.

As an adult these symptoms can play out as: a person needs to be the center of attention and rarely allows others a voice, unreasonable expectation of others, requires excessive attention/admiration, lacks empathy, envious, or has a sense of entitlement. As you can imagine and have no doubt experienced, a professional manager, Vice President or CEO with these tendencies can sabotage an otherwise successful team, department and/or career. Working through this step is integral in establishing a strong sense of self and an intrapersonal attitude that is conducive to professional growth, self improvement and change.


For instance, some people in the workplace may have a “chip” on their shoulders. As a result, and as the previous example disclosed, their personal thoughts can be punitive and harsh as can their behavior toward others. Their actions can also be either too kind or too harsh given the reality of the situation. As a result, they are ineffective and cause themselves and others grief and the organization time and money with the bottom line being they come across as victims displaying some of these behaviors (e.g., attention seeking, need for admiration and lack of empathy, feelings of inadequacy, submissive and clinging behavior or preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism and control). On the surface the symptoms may appear to be diametrically opposed, however, the underlying issue is the same and resolution to this challenge is to take personal responsibility for one’s life (not blaming oneself or others). This must be a major first step toward becoming a more satisfied individual, an appreciated co-worker and a successful leader.

The examples below highlight the difference between a person which allows the “victim” mentality to have control and a person who is being responsible, taking an active role in their thoughts and applying personal growth strategies:

A. Responsible position: “I feel depressed because I’ve “bought into” the belief that I don’t deserve to feel good about myself.” Victim position: “I feel depressed because nobody seems to care.” B. Responsible Position: “I have a point that will add clarity to why our marketing penetration is off by 7%, but I will wait until Gloria is finished speaking before I present my findings.” Victim position: Gloria is constantly talking and not saying anything useful, I’m going to interrupt her and present my data now. It’s more important anyway.” C. Responsible position: “I haven’t been willing to assert myself because I tend to doubt myself when others disagree with me.” Victim position: “I haven’t been able to assert myself because I keep getting shot down”


Set an achievable goal, that is, a change that is under one’s own control rather than dependent on someone else’s approval. Trying to gain another’s approval may be regarded as a desire (or want), but not a personalized goal which is under one’s own control. Focusing attention and energy on personalized goals increases one’s sense of personal power. Conversely, focusing primarily on desires or approval by others tends to increase one’s sense of powerlessness and vulnerability. Some examples are given below:

A. Personalized Goal: ”I’d like to reprogram the belief and overcome my anxiety of speaking up in meetings. Desire: “I want others to care about me so that I won’t so scared to speak up in meetings. B. Personalized Goal: “Effective leaders set the example and are respectful of others, when Gloria is finished I will tie her ideas into my new data so she saves face and the group gets the updated information required to hit our marketing target of 12% penetration. Desire: I am the Executive VP and I should be able to interrupt at anytime to present my information and move these meetings along. C. Personalized Goal: ”I’d like to support myself in the face of other’s disagreement so that I am willing to express my ideas and opinions more assertively during our meeting.” Desire: “I’d like to have my colleagues accept me so that I can express myself more assertively.”


Frustration and demoralization often occur at this stage when one discovers that steps 1-5 do not automatically produce change. There is often a mental struggle going on inside of you where one part is wanting to quit, but the other knows that if you work through this “stage” then success will be forthcoming.

Example, Think of any previous success you have enjoyed whether that is sports related, academic achievement or any act that made you “endure” over a period of time. If you draw on the mental processes, steps and strength it took to achieve that milestone or success then, you no doubt, know the next steps you must take at this cross road. In essence, revert to what you know and have been successful at (the processes, concepts and struggles that were needed) and apply them to this particular challenge.


A strengthened resolve to give the goal implementation process vigilant attention is required at this critical stage. This is the step at which one’s personalized goal is translated into an intention to change. An intention to change doesn’t guarantee change; however, it does have more action potential than wishing or wanting to change.

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elemental truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.’”

-W. H. Murry from the Scottish Himalayan expedition to Mt. Everest


One’s intention is then translated into specific action steps. These steps must be intentionally repeated, over and over again, until the new behavior begins to be expressed automatically. This frequently takes more time and attention than people are willing to devote.  But success is assured to those who persevere and apply sound Problem Solving, Decision Making and Implementation skills.


Learning to support yourself through the period of vulnerability that occurs right after one lets go of the old familiar pattern of behavior and up to the point where one begins to feel secure with the new behavior or habit. One must model consistent mental and physical behaviors until which time the “experimental behavior” is firmly established, thus requiring increasingly less attention to maintain the change. A personal or professional mentoring group can be very helpful at all stages but especially this stage. Think of them as your personal “Board of Directors.” Corporations have them, why not you?


Congratulations. You have successfully completed your personalized goal. Now apply each step of this process to the small and large challenges that life presents to you each day and a happier more successful life will be yours as the old unhealthy patterns slowly fall to the wayside and the new patterns build up momentum and show themselves to you in ever self-fulfilling and profitable ways.

“10 elements of Intentional behavior Change” was originally developed by Dr. Joe Russo and stemmed from the work of James O. Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island and colleagues who developed the Transtheoretical model beginning in 1977 . I morphed these time tested behavior modification techniques and have applied them to the corporate environment for individuals and organizations who want to achieve “sustained change,” not just read about it, go through some idealistic steps and pretend change has occurred, when in reality, it has not. If one aspires to achieve extraordinary results, then extraordinary thoughts, behaviors and actions are needed. Are you ready to start?

Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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08 23 2013

How to Set Goals & Achieve Them

Business Strategy and Implementation, Business Success, Corporate Therapy, Leadership Development/ Executive Coaching, Staff Development for Profit

August 2013

Business Strategy and Implementation, Improvement, Leadership Development/ Executive Coaching, Mergers: How to Manage & Coach People Through Change, Work Place Articles

Many people struggle with achieving goals, not because they aren’t serious, but because they don’t know how and don’t have a map to follow.

Whether learning to lead people, run a department or ski having a proven formula or system to follow will improve your success rate tremendously. Setting goals is commendable but how does one actually implement the process, avoid the obstacles and naysayers, and follow-through to success?

For those of you who want to do this but are fearful, congratulations. If you weren’t ready to take it seriously, then you wouldn’t be feeling fearful or anxious. Take a step toward that fear and you will conquer it.

Remember to have fun as you stretch yourself. The process isn’t always easy. Here are ten steps that will provide you with a higher probability of achieving your goals.

1. Select a Personal or Professional Goal


  • Health and exercise. Reduce calories by 38 percent per day, hit the gym three times per week. Do 100 miles a week on your bike.
  • Improve organizational gross revenue by 18 percent in the next 12 months.
  • More quality time to spend with my beloved and children

2. Identify the Benefits to You and/or Your Organization for Making This Change

  • Feeling better, more energy, improved appearance
  • Less stress, happier employees, stronger financial company, improved market share, growth of my business or the department I manage
  • A loving and happier home environment for my children, my beloved and me

3. Identify Strategies for Accomplishing Your Goal

Identifying strategies is a three-part process. First, list ideas for possible strategies to achieve your goals. Next, consider the obstacles that might keep you from reaching your goals. Finally, consider ways to overcome such obstacles:

  • I could get up before work and hit the gym, I could go directly after work.
  • Proactively coach my employees and set clear accountabilities with timelines.

4. Obstacles That Might Get in the Way

  • I hate getting up early, this is a hassle, and I’m tired after work.
  • I don’t have time to coach people.
  • I don’t like setting clear and firm accountabilities because I don’t know what to do if they don’t achieve them?

5. Consider Ways to Overcome Such Obstacles

  • I used to work out after work and it actually gave me more energy.
  • I need to re-prioritize my day and make time to coach. We have a great team; if we did this, the gross revenue targets would be very attainable.

6. Adjust Your Surroundings for Successful Goal Attainment

The people and habits you currently have in place can greatly influence your behavior. By creating supportive surroundings, goal attainment can be a successful and satisfying process. Examine your support system. Family, friends, subordinates and superiors can all help or hurt your goal attainment efforts. Help and teach people how to help you attain your goals.

7. Implement Your Strategy and Record Your Progress

Make a game out of it. Wall charts that measure growth are magic at encouraging consistent behavior modification and improvement.

8. Reward Yourself Along the Way

Rewards are key to human motivation and make the process more enjoyable.

9. Visualize Clear Accomplishments

Our brains work very similar to software programs. In fact, the mind doesn’t know the difference between visualization coupled with feelings of succeeding at an event and actually doing it. This is why you often notice professional athletes visualizing a race course or hitting a golf ball. Coaches call this visualization and psychiatrists call  it self-directed Neuroplasticity. The bottom line is it works and there is much empirical evidence to support it. If you consistently visualize (program) in your mind the exact results you want to achieve this will help your brain duplicate it and look for ways to improve.

10. Make Adjustments as You Progress

If you determine that success is not happening like you hoped, review your goals, barriers, and support systems and make adjustments. Persistence is important, but, if your goal process ends up being all work and no fun and you are beginning to dread the change or feel like quitting, it’s time to adjust your approach. Adjustment is a normal part of your evolutionary change process.


Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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