Can doing what you love turn a weakness into a strength?

Read this post to the end and listen to me singing via the link at the end, either one of two things is likely to happen: You may feel inspired and motivated to take inspired action. Or, you may feel at the end of desperation, as in “what have I got to lose” and you’ll be motivated to take desperately needed action.

Since inspiration and desperation are really the only two things that motivate us to change, work with what you have. If have the urge to get up and do something you have been hesitant to take action on or perhaps confront a weakness you’ve been afraid to face, follow it.

Don’t let the moment pass and hope another opportunity will come, because sometimes it doesn’t.

Singing and performing on stage are activities that I love. As a speaker, I have learned to breathe into the emotion when telling a story, so that I am not overwhelmed and am still able to convey the message.Singing however, presents a special challenge for me, because singing is both psychologically and physically expressive, I feel what I am singing deep inside. Highly emotional, sentimental or disruptive music or lyrics mean an emotional, sentimental and somehow disrupted me on stage.

There were times when I turned down the opportunity to sing for some very special occasions, because I feared that weakness of becoming emotional would ruin the performance and thus the event. That all changed for me a few years ago.

There is little that can withstand a man who can conquer himself.
-Louis XIV

I was scheduled to sing at a community event and one of my songs was the pop ballad, “The Climb”, which was made popular by Miley Cyrus. I had practiced the song with my pianist over and again, whenever I got on the stage to sing, I could not stop the tears.

The struggle, the longing, the determination embodied in the music and the lyrics reminded me of so many chapters in the book of my life. They put my heart in a vice every single time I sang, so much so, that I could barely get through the song.

As the final days before the concert ticked off the calendar and my vulnerability was not only showing, but oozing out of every note in the song, I wavered.  Should I just forget that song and not sing it at all?

Are you noticing how the more room I gave to the fear of my weakness gaining the upper hand, the greater the weakness seemed to become?

Wait just a minute! Not sing it at all… I stopped that thought in its tracks!

I had been looking forward to singing. I love to sing and omitting this song would take away from a chance to do what I love. And where would this lead to next?  I decided I wanted to do what I love more than I feared possibly making a fool of myself and ending up in a metaphorical heap of vulnerability and naked emotion on the stage.  I was singing that darned song!

I wish I could tell you that I got on stage and without a single tear, belted out the most beautiful, amazing and technically precise version of “The Climb” ever heard. That is not what happened. What happened was something even better; I learned that doing what I love has the power to turn a weakness into strength.

Tears welled up before the first note came out. I realized that I had two options. I could try to hold my breath and control the emotions rising up like waves, then I could not sing at all, or I could do what I love, sing and trust the audience to receive it, a little piece of me, like a gift that may not be what you expected, but it can serve you well if you allow it. I chose to sing. (Hear a live recording from the audience by clicking this link: Denise singing)

I’d like for you to take a moment and think really hard about this. Where in your life and business are you allowing your perceived weaknesses to stop you from doing what you love? How are you choosing to hold your breath for fear of appearing weak?

As we come to the end, imagine what your life would look like, if you claimed your strength to be authentic and to do what you love, simply because you can. Remember, inspiration or desperation, if you have the urge to take action, do it.

Post something that you once considered a weakness and can now recognize as a strength that you will use in your life or your business. I’ll send you virtual hugs and high-fives if you do!
(Click this link to hear a live recording of Denise singing recorded from the audience.)

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Step Up and Step Out – Be The Change

(l) Suzanne Evans (r) Denise Banks-Grasedyck

(l)Suzanne Evans and me


Lately, I have been moving under the radar and you may have been wondering; where the heck is she?! I am so glad you asked. (Ok, I was going to tell you anyway.) As a multi-passionate, eclectic person, I am constantly doing lots of different and to the untrained eye, seemingly unrelated things, that I really enjoy doing. You’ll have to trust that there is a method to my madness. It all aligns to who I am and it also means that I can get totally immersed in anything that captures my attention – and my heart. So here’s the scoop!

I have been coaching some great clients, co-authoring a book (more about that later) and most recently I have been in Orlando, Florida immersed in meeting amazing, inspiring people and connecting with some pretty awesome, savvy business owners, including the incredibly talented, Suzanne Evans. I spent the time learning how to add more value and increase to my clients and the people I encounter in my business and reveling in possibility. And I while I was there I also got to do something else that really lights me up – helping other people beyond using my coaching skills.

I participated in the Be The Change Give/Run/Walk 5k, the Suzanne Evans Charity Event sponsored by Shanda Sumpter and HeartCore Endurance. The event brought in over $60,000 to support a project that gives a group of women in Zimbabwe the training and tools they need to become thriving entrepreneurs, able to support their families and lift up their entire community. The funds go 100% to the project in which these women and their Curio Market get the support they need to purchase supplies, paint, electrical work, plumbing, and basic marketing supplies. Not only did I help make that happen, but I am so grateful that two of my dearest friends joined in and sponsored me for the walk. (Tina and Michaela, you are awesome – THANK YOU from my whole heart!)

Each of us should do what we can for and in our community and the world, so being involved was a no-brainer. As a conscious business owner and a Christian, I am to love my neighbor and make an impact on those around me, so again, it was an easy choice to donate to the cause and strut my stuff wearing an unbelievably retro-progressive hot-pink sweatband. (Try not to be jealous when you check out my post-run photo.)

I won’t end poverty and need all by myself, but by creating my own successful business and by coming together as I did with HeartCore Endurance, Suzanne Evans and a few hundred other entrepreneurs, I am able to inspire others to see and embrace possibility and to do as much as they can with all that they have. I am able to support others and help turn their dreams into reality. Every day I am a catalyst for empowerment and change. What a privilege!

One thing I know for sure is that together we can make a difference while we do what we love. I am doing it and you can too. It all begins with stepping into your higher purpose with confidence and boldness (even if you have fear.)

I love it when doing what I do, reminds me of who I am and who I am becoming!

Do you want to step into your higher purpose and finally be who you are meant to be? Are you ready to rock some big goals with real meaning? Don’t wait. Do it now! If you want some help with that, contact me today for a free strategy session. Let’s make it happen!

#StepIntoPurpose #BeTheChange #GoalsWithMeaning #SuzanneEvans #HeartCoreEndurance

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Your Intuition – Ignore It At Your Own Risk!

I hear an eerily familiar voice and for an instant I freeze, my hands glued to the shopping cart. My gaze is fixed straight ahead on nothing. I can’t see his face. I don’t need to see it. I know with uncanny certainty that the man who stalked me years ago is now standing behind me. As he continues to speak to me, to us. He is asking questions. “Hey, have you tried this brand? This is the good stuff! What about this kind?” His nasal voice grates directly against my brain. He’s the personal shopper from hell! I refuse to look. I am speechless. The urge to get away overwhelms me.

I walk at a quick, clipped pace. I say nothing. “Mom, what’s wrong?” I hear my daughter’s voice. I can’t respond. We have to move away. He moves with us. He is now beside me. I can see his ruddy face from the corner of my eye. Yes, it’s him! My daughter senses something is wrong. “Mom, let me push the cart!” She grabs the handle and begins almost to run. “Come on, Mom!” she says loudly and over –cheerfully, as we sprint toward the cash registers. He ducks off into an aisle.

Finally at the register, I am visibly shaken. My 13 year-old, says, “Mom, that guy was really creepy!” Trying to appear calm, I respond, “He only said a few words. What makes you say he’s creepy?” Her response spoke volumes, “I could just feel it. That’s why I didn’t talk to him.” Smart girl. She listened to her intuition, to her insticts. If I had done that so many years ago, I would never have been so polite. I would not have entered a conversation that was the beginning of a situation that tormented me for years. I would have listened to that strange feeling, to the hair standing on the back of my neck, to the inexplicable feeling of not being able to breathe in this person’s presence, to my intuition. Since then I have learned to respect, greatly appreciate and more often than not, listen to that deep knowing both in my personal and professional interactions. And I have encouraged my children to do the same.

Despite the fact that studies support and confirm the idea that intuition is highly accurate, the accuracy of my own intuition still amazes me. And whenever I succumb to my old patterns of suppressing my intuitive insights, I usually regret it. The business deal ends up less than ideal. That particular client that felt “off” turns out to be far from pleasant to work with. And let’s just note that over the years I have had more than one stalker.

Too often, we are taught to ignore or mistrust our intuition. From the time we are children most of us are taught to override our inner compass to fulfill certain expectations of politeness or friendliness and the like. Of course, I want a kind, friendly and polite world, filled with loving and loveable people, as much as anyone could. And I also want us to us our intuition, because I know that it serves a purpose. Our intuition reveals that each of us knows more than we think we do and it helps us make decisions even in new and completely unfamiliar situations.

I work with men and women from a diverse array of backgrounds on issues that span the spectrum of personal and professional development. When a client enters a session, I never really know in advance what their needs on that particular day will be, because, well, life happens. In our previous session we may have planned to work on getting clarity on a set of goals or perhaps or improving their mindset or their leadership presence and influence. And then the client shows up with a different agenda. She now has the need and the desire to address how a disastrous family relationship is wreaking havoc on her both at home and in the office. How do I suddenly shift into that space and know just the right questions to ask to help my client reach a breakthrough? The answer is simple, intuition. Yes, I have been formally trained as a coach at one of the best training institutes in the industry and I have lots of experience, in coaching and in life. But that alone does not explain what some have called my “amazing ability to always ask the right questions”, sometimes even on things the client would not even have considered.

We all have an innate level of intuitiveness and our intuition is a figurative muscle; we can build and strengthen it simply by using it. One way to do this is simply to practice making decisions quickly before you have time to consider, reconsider and second guess your intuitive insights. I am not saying, throw all facts, sense and caution to the wind. When you are making potentially high-impact decisions, due diligence is in order. However, anytime you are faced with a decision, really check in and listen to what is coming up for you from deep inside. When in doubt follow your intuition.

Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear your story. How has following your intuition helped you achieve something great personally or professionally? Or, when was the last time you smothered and pushed aside your intuition and you really regretted it?

Post your comments and encourage more people to follow their intuition, because we always know more than we think we know.

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How to Handle Other People’s Opinions: 3 Reasons They Trigger You and 3 Tips to Handle Them With Ease

Do you spend more time than you would like worrying, fretting or even agonizing about other people’s opinions of you? You are not alone, many people do the same every single day. If we allow it to, this behavior can rob our self-esteem, confidence and even our joy and it definitely is not the best use of the precious hours of our lives. Three scenarios and three questions below will help you understand why and when we believe other people’s opinions are so important to us. They will also give you the ability to choose how and by whom you want your life to be impacted. And lastly, three options for responding when unsolicited opinions leave you speechless (almost.)

Just a few days ago, I was angry. No, I was foaming-at-the-mouth-beside-myself rabid! As someone who helps others deal with and master all manner of situations, I am in no way proud of that. I share it because I think most people, especially mothers, will be able to relate.
My thirteen-year-old daughter sat at the table and told me about what had happened with one of the boys in her class. She and a friend were talking, when one of this particular teenager, widely known for his disruptive and disrespectful behavior toward the teachers and other students, snarled at my daughter, “Shut up, you piece of $/*+!”

Yes, he said exactly those words to my precious child! My eyes flashed red and for one hot, indignant moment, I was ready to do whatever was necessary to have that boy thrown out of school.

What struck me was how calm and unemotional my daughter was in retelling the story. She is, by most standards, a highly sensitive young lady. I was curious, so I asked her if she was trying to hold back feelings of anger and hurt. Her response spoke volumes far beyond the words.

“Mom, I was angry for a minute, but I am not hurt at all. Why should I be hurt by someone’s words if their opinion doesn’t matter to me?” Yeah, exactly.

Depositphotos_Man Being Criticized

While I still have a discussion planned with the teacher and hopefully the boy’s parents, all my daughter wanted to know was what would be a good response to communicate her boundaries, if something like this happens again. Did I mention how smart this kid is?

There is an old adage, “other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.” While adopting this viewpoint can be incredibly liberating, fully committing to living by it, is still an ongoing challenge for many and there is a reason for that.

There are different scenarios in which other people’s opinions have a greater effect on us than in other scenarios. By directing your attention to when you are most impacted by someone else, you begin to understand the true force behind that impact and you regain the power to allow or not allow those situations to affect you.

I have observed that there are three situations in which other’s opinions commonly elicit a strong emotional response from us. These include when:
• We perceive that our core values are challenged or threatened.
• The opinion corresponds with or affirms our own internal critic.
• The opinion corresponds with or affirms an unfulfilled need for approval and acceptance by ourselves and others.

The questions below will help you quickly gain a sense of what is happening with you and what the trigger for your reaction may be.

How often have you been deeply upset, angered and hurt by someone else’s less than favorable opinion of your behavior, your work, your parenting skills or something related to some other part of your life?

In this situation, you may perceive that your core values are being questioned or otherwise threatened. When someone’s negative opinion is directed at issues that relate to our core values, we can easily become raw with emotion. No one likes to have what matters most to them and essentially the core of their lives, challenged, threatened or otherwise compromised.

How many times has the person with the critical opinion been a complete stranger or someone you barely know, yet you still felt a deep blow that even surprised you?

When strangers deliver opinions that cause a strong reaction, especially a sense of hurt and rejection, it is often because we are hearing our inner critic repeat its’ message through someone else. It can almost seem like the other person has been spying on us from the inside. We subconsciously cringe at the thought that the inadequacies and faults that we perceive in ourselves must be so obvious that even strangers have an opinion on them.

How frequently has the opinion that pricked or pierced you like a poisoned needle, come from a friend or family member?

Whether we realize it or not, we all have the need to be loved and accepted and even to some degree, to have approval of us. Unfortunately, too often we attempt to delegate this task to those who are close to us through friendship or family ties. It is wonderful and extremely supportive when our friends and family rally around us in this way. It can also be problematic, when not only do we expect our friends and family to love, accept and approve of us, we mistakenly believe that we need this before we can be fulfilled or achieve what we want.

Often we don’t recognize that the love and acceptance of just one person, ourselves, is what is truly missing. Self-love and self-acceptance can make all the difference in whether we are left vulnerable through the opinion of others or we are resilient enough to use those opinions as feedback to be gleaned for what is helpful and empowering, leaving the rest behind.

Even when we know what triggers us, an unexpected negative opinion can still throw us off and we are left speechless. We have all been there.

The next time someone offers you an unsolicited opinion, especially a negative one, here are some options for responding:
• Remember the old adage and repeat after me; “Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.” Then, go old-school and let them talk to the hand.
• Just say “No, thanks.” Like that third piece of death-by-chocolate cake, you have the right to decline what really isn’t good for you.
• Glean for value. “What makes you say that?” Hint, if the other person’s answer sounds a little like “Ummm, I’m just being a jerk,” accept that at face value and move on.

How have you been allowing other people’s opinions to get in the way of you achieving what you really want in your life or your business?

Share below in the comments or if you’d like to have a private conversation message me here:

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4 Tips to Improve Communication, So You Don’t Have to Whack Anyone with a Book

The inability to communicate effectively can lead to dire consequences including disengagement at work, stress at home and unnecessary frustration in life. One solution is to hit people over the head with a very heavy hard-cover book. Read this if you prefer not to whack anyone with a book to make your point. It may also save you from being the one who gets whacked.

Woman with books
All heads turned in the direction from which a blood-curdling wail was spewing into the air. Still holding her weapon of choice, a fat hardcover coffee-table book featuring luxurious homes, the four year-old also burst into sobs as she stared down at her toddler victim. “Why on earth did you do that?! “ The shocked mother exclaimed scooping up the younger child, who was already beet-faced from screaming.

Over the next several minutes perplexed mother went on to lecture her four-year-old on why she should “use her words” and it was painfully obvious that this was a situation in which the little girl simply did not have the words to express what she was feeling. In the scenes just prior to the incident, she had repeatedly tried to steer her mother’s attention away from the younger, less patient child, by insisting that her mother look at one photo after another.

One can only guess that the book attack was a manifestation of the little girl’s annoyance and perhaps jealousy of the younger sister’s ability to control the scene and capture her mother’s attention, combined with a lack of the necessary skills to communicate what she was experiencing and the mother’s oversight of what the child was trying to say with her agitated and over- anxious attempts to get her mother to look at the photos.

That scene reminded me of similar scenarios that play out in the adult world both at home and in the office; scenes that most of us recognize and have been involved in at one time or another.

Managers share how frustrated they are with disengaged employees. Those frustrated employees in turn complain that management that doesn’t communicate when changes are being made. Exasperated spouses insist that it doesn’t matter what they say, because the other spouse isn’t interested or isn’t even listening.

In most cases, each side is waiting on the other, or some third party to step up and remedy the situation. And on all sides, heavy coffee-table books are figuratively poised to lash out and finally get the point across. There is a much better, more effective and more respectful way to “use your words” and initiate and conduct conversations that ensure you are heard and understood.

Here are four tips to help you communicate in a way that supports your relationships, your career, your progress and your daily joy much better than hitting someone over the head with a hard-cover edition of War and Peace.

1. Take responsibility for making it happen.
Suspend the judgment of who is right or wrong or whose job it “should” be to communicate on an issue. If something is interfering with your work, your relationship or your ability to enjoy your day, claim your power and take responsibility for making the communication happen. Often one great way to do this is simply to ask questions.

If you are a leader and your employees seem to be disengaged, ask why and what can be done to help them engage more.

If you are an employee and work for a notorious “non-communicating” boss, take responsibility for asking specific questions that will help you get your work done and get the results you want.

If you are a spouse annoyed, frustrated or even angry that your partner doesn’t seem to be listening, inquire about what is going on in their world. Ask what you can do to improve the situation and make a deeper connection.

2. Focus on the result you want and communicate that in plain and specific language.
Assume that the other person can’t read your mind and that our individual filters cause us to interpret things differently. Be clear with yourself on the result that you want from an interaction and let that guide how you structure the conversation and communication.

If you want an employee to stop spreading his negativity about everything change that is announced, say that in plain, simple, solution-focused language.

For example, “You know, Tim, with all the changes coming up, we really need everyone focused on the opportunities and the good things that will happen. That will help us all to navigate the challenges that involved with a little less stress. Since a bad mood and negative energy are even more contagious than a good mood and positive energy, I’d like to talk to you about what has to happen to get you on board and focused on the opportunities.”

Remember that clear and simple language beats clever and ambiguous language in creating powerful and effective, relationship-preserving communication. If you have to word-smith for hours, you are probably not clear with yourself on the result you want and you will not be able to communicate that desired result, thus minimizing the chances of achieving it.


3. Invite a true dialogue and take no excuses.

Know that the more important and emotional the subject is the less likely it is that anyone involved is truly objective. Yes, this includes you.

Create the framework for true dialogue in your communication. Whether the communication is face-to-face or virtual. Seek and leave room for the other side’s response.

And even though the higher stakes communications tend to be more subjective and emotional, there is no reason to accept any excuses or reasoning for the undesired state of things. The “reason” we do anything is because that is what we have chosen in the given situation. Focus on what has to happen to enable better, mutually acceptable and solution-focused choices going forward.

4. Arm yourself with communication skills (instead of weapons disguised as books.)
Communicating is something that we do constantly. We communicate verbally and non-verbally. We communicate intentionally and unintentionally. We communicate well and disastrously. One of the best and most sure-fire ways to improve just about every area of your life both personally and professionally is to improve your communication skills. There are lots of ways and tools to help do this including books. One of my favorite books on the topic is “Fierce Conversations”, an excellent book by the author Susan Scott. You should also explore the other possibilities such as taking courses, observing and mimicking great communicators as well as personal coaching.

What scenarios have you observed of people who have been overpowered by the frustration of not being able to communicate effectively? I’d love to hear from you, so go ahead and share your stories in the comments.

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Dreams – Some People Would Die For Theirs. Is Yours Worth Living For?

Martin Luther King Monument DC

The bigger, the bolder our dreams are, the more daunting they can seem to us. The more we value something, the greater is the fear of taking the wrong action, so we take no action at all. But a dream kept in a locked closet, or sealed away inside us, is nothing more than future regret in its seedling stage. But if there are dreams worth dying for, shouldn’t your dream be worth living for?

“Yeah, they punched me in the face and kicked me. I’ve been put in the hospital a few times,” he said peering into the space in front of him. “It doesn’t matter. They know what I stand for and I ‘m gonna keep talking about it.”
No emotion, just a strong, determined look and eyes that flickered with a flame from somewhere deep inside; you know, that place where true conviction, passion and our biggest dreams reside. To say the least, I was impressed, moved and fascinated. A quick shudder went up my spine causing me to tremor. The seventeen-year-old caught my involuntary spasm, stopped speaking, shifted upward and smiled almost apologetically.

This week many people and communities around the world are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of peaceful change and his dream of a world in which fear, hate and discrimination are completely displaced and replaced, by love, peace and justice. Dr. King had a dream that he was willing to be beaten, jailed and ultimately, to die for. I posted this last year on the birthday anniversary of the honorable Dr. King. In our current so trying times around the world, I think it bears repeating.

I am reminded that in previous years MLK celebrations have also taken place here in Berlin, Germany, where I live. Last year I was thrilled and honored to be invited to participate in one of those events, where I had the opportunity facilitate discussions on the causes and responses to racism and discrimination with a group of 15 to 19 year olds from different regions of the country.

One of the students I had the privilege to work with was the seventeen-year-old young German, Daniel1, who lives in one of the regions known for its right-wing affinity and who had been the target of multiple violent beatings. He had been attacked repeatedly simply because of his conviction to the dream that he shares with Dr. Martin Luther King. Daniel is committed to creating a world of peace, freedom and justice for all people regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation, and he refuses to let anyone or anything get in his way. He is utterly committed to his dream, his big goal based on his core values and Daniel’s words, his actions; everything about him is aligned to making it happen. This kid is on fire!

Being in Daniel’s presence reminded me of that moment in when a client tells me about that ultimate dream or the people and things that are most important in her or his life, for a moment they are on fire. “Yes! Yes, more than anything, that is what I want. I would die for (insert: my dream, my family, my …. )!”

When we begin to look at how their goals and actions support and align with the dream, the fire dims to glowing embers, doused by fear. The bigger, the bolder our dreams are, the more daunting they can seem to us. The more we value something, the greater is the fear of taking the wrong action, so we take no action at all. But a dream kept in a locked closet, or sealed away inside us, is nothing more than future regret in its seedling stage.
Fortunately, most of us have dreams that do not require us to give our lives, they simply require our commitment and willingness to take action – even if we have to take some hard knocks and like Daniel, the occasional a**-whippin’ to make it happen.

Do you have a dream worth living for? Now is the time to stop hiding behind “too much to do”, “too much stress” and “not enough…” Get clear on what your dream is. Create “goals with meaning”, that is goals that are rooted in your core values and reflect your dream. Align your goals and your actions to that dream that means so much to you, so you can make it happen. If you believe something is worth dying for, it deserves your best effort at living for!

Are you ready to achieve your goals and start living a dream with living for? Whether you need clarity on your goals and alignment with your core values or you want the courage, confidence and a plan to make them happen, I am here to help. Send me an e-mail at info[at]banks-grasedyck.com or give me a call, +49 (0)176 556 19 112!

1 The name has been changed to Daniel for privacy protection.

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What You Should Know to Keep Your Promises to Yourself and Reach Your Goals in 2015

Knowing what you want is great, but it isn’t enough to keep you motivated and strong when pursuing your goal gets really tough. Knowing the why behind your wants and the promises you make to yourself can make the difference between giving up or succeeding.

Most people make an effort to keep their promises. They would hesitate to abandon a promise made to a friend or family member, however many would not even think twice about bailing out on a promises to themselves. But breaking those promises that we make to ourselves is self-sabotage and may be more harmful than most people realize. Fortunately, it also easier to stop doing than most people realize.

New year Resolutions

We find ourselves at the end of 2014 and teetering at the cusp of the year 2015, hoping, dreaming and planning our new year of possibility. Many of us are busy creating lists of goals and resolutions for the near and not so near future. Where are you in this transition phase from the old to the new?

Maybe you have set big goals for yourself or perhaps like millions of others, you have decided upon the resolutions that will mark the beginning of the year and new personal era. And like many others, you may already have a suspicion that those resolutions that you will make with vigorous conviction and the best intentions won’t make it past the end of the next month.

In fact, even within days of making them, some resolution will already begin fading to the back of your mind. There they will remain, inactive, or so you think.

The truth is our abandoned resolutions and the broken promises we make to ourselves, still have the power to drain our energy like a parasite that only looks harmless until you take it under the loop for examination. It is when we take a closer look at the nature of broken resolutions and neglected goals that we realize that the promises that we repeatedly make and break to ourselves are harmful and left to nest at the back of our minds, they grow roots of self-defeat that can suck the life out of our hopes, dreams and visions.

Am I being too melodramatic? You tell me. What I know for sure is that the more often we break promises to ourselves, the easier it gets to break them. Think of that fitness club membership that you never use; no matter how often you have renewed it. What about that foreign language? Sure, Rosetta Stone appreciates your business, but seriously, when are you going to start spending that hour week learning French, like you said you would?

And weren’t you going to be home by dinner time more often last year? The more often we break our promises to ourselves, the less likely we are to achieve our goals and live our dreams.

It doesn’t have to be this way. So what can you do to make promises to yourself that you will keep? At the risk of sounding like your mother, the key to succeeding here is knowledge- and action. Knowing what you want to achieve is important and knowing why is even more important and knowing how the why connects to and aligns with your core values is absolutely essential. When you are fully aware of the responses to these three questioning words, the action part becomes so much easier.

Let’s look at THE New Year’s resolution classics of how this works. Imagine your big 2015 goal is to lose 15 pounds. That is your what. Now, why do you want to lose 15 pounds? If your response is something like, “so, I can look better,” I challenge you to connect “So I can look better” to one of your innermost values what you and your life are about. If you have difficulty doing this, your resolution is already well down the path of defeat. Why? Because although there is a certain high that comes with rocking that pencil skirt or flexing the pecs under that rugged Henley shirt, at the most basic level, we desire more. We are wired for a purpose-driven life; we want things to matter to us and make a difference in our lives and the world around us.

Do you feel an argument, welling up inside you? Perhaps you are thinking, “Hey lady, I really do want to lose 15 pounds and look HOT, darn it!” O.k. Then get to the bottom of “why”. Let’s go back to the goal and try to find out where “looking better” fits into what is at the core of who you are and what you value.
What would “looking better” really mean to you? Imagine you have lost the weight. Go through the whole scenario in your mind as if you are living one day in your new body. How do look now? How does that make you feel? What is now different about your day or even about your life?

Let’s say you now imagine yourself wearing a fabulous outfit as you join a group of friends or colleagues for cocktails at a really “in” place, that you didn’t feel comfortable going to before (nor did you get invited.) Perhaps, the core value that is crying out for attention is “a sense of belonging” or “the need to feel accepted”. How much more powerful is that connection than simply “looking better”? Understanding what is driving you to make resolutions and other promises to yourself and the world, will help you to address the real issues and exponentially increase your chances of reaching any goal you choose.

So here’s another challenge from me to you: drag out all those resolutions nesting at the back of your mind – It may be a bit scary, but you can do it! Look at the what, examine the why and connect it to a core value.
If you can’t connect the why to one of your core values, you may be trying to live up to something you think you “should” be doing simply because the world says so and not because you truly want to achieve this. If you are able to connect the why to a core value, make sure that it is a positive value, anything else is just your inner critic trying to convince you that you are less than worthy and less than absolutely fabulous. (This is something else that I know for sure: You and I were made to shine and radiate the magnificent light of our creator, so let’s do that!)

So clear out the parasites at the back of your mind! Put all your energy into making your dreams come true and living up to who you are meant to be.

And just for the record, while you may want to do so for your health, you don’t need to lose 15 or even 5 pounds to be accepted and appreciated, although you may need to drop some dead weight like negative thinking and superficial “friends”…

What do you want to manifest in the new year?

Take action. MAKE IT HAPPEN! You don’t have to do it alone.

Post your goals, resolutions and promises here, so we can be your accountability partners and your raving supporters.

Here’s to you and your best year yet!

Posted in Insights, Success Tips, Take Charge of Your Life, Value Alignment | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Core Value Alignment – It Can Save You a Lot of Tears

It’s the kind of restroom you expect to find in an upscale office complex; the walls go from floor to ceiling instead of the half-stalls that leave your feet exposed. Perhaps it is the solid wall that creates the impression that the person behind the walls is alone or at least that she can’t be heard. But I could hear her. Each and every muffled, suppressed and stifled sob travelled through the wall, accompanied by the soul-draining mantra, “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.” This was not the first time nor would it be the last that I would be a silent witness to this scene. It was Monday, again.
Woman Crying

Over the years, as a personal and professional development coach and someone who spent years in the corporate workplace, I know very well that not everyone shares the idea that the beginning of the work week is full of possibility and cause for happy anticipation. I often hear people complaining especially about Mondays. In fact, I was once one of them. I also encounter many whose dissatisfaction and frustration with their work extends to cover every day of the week, as they struggle through their forty, fifty and even sixty-plus work hours and live for the reprieve that is the weekend.

Struggling through the work-week and living for the weekend can cost you a great deal more than you might think, because you are living out of sync with your values and your purpose. There is a direct link to burn-out, one of the many faces of persistent dissatisfaction and disconnect with the work you do.

I have heard (and on the path to the life I love, probably used) every argument about why it is so hard to make the choice that frees you to be who you were meant to be and live a life of purpose, passion and success on your own terms. Any argument you can come up with will have some merit, they are ALL valid to some degree. The most powerful argument for not settling for anything less than your ideal life is because you were meant to be significant. You matter. You have a purpose. When you live your purpose another piece of the great design of intricate connections that make up the universe falls into place and only you can make that happen.

Perhaps you are thinking, “what does my purpose have to do with my job or my career? I can live my purpose on the weekend.” This is true and if you are happy with that, then you can reframe your Monday-morning mindset to support you and how you can concentrate on fulfilling your purpose on the weekends. If you have given reframing your best effort and still find yourself dreading the start of every week and perhaps every single day, you are not being true and authentic to yourself. And “how you do anything, is how you do everything”, so it is sure bet that your self-deception is not limited to your work-life. Take a closer look at your relationships, your health, and your finances; where else in your life are you settling for less than you really want?

Limiting your “real life” and being your authentic self to a maximum of 48-hours on the weekend is no way to spend your life. You have a choice. You can choose to love what you do or leave it and do what you love. You can choose to live the life of your dreams or hide-out in the restroom and simply bide your time, until your time is up. Doesn’t the latter seem like a real waste to you?

It takes some work to unravel and reframe the stories and negative ideas you have picked-up along your way to where you are now. It takes some work to identify your core values and to align your goals and your actions to those values. It isn’t always easy, but with the right skilled guidance to take you through a proven process for lasting transformation, it can be simple and it is so worth it!

Are you ready to lose the Monday-blues, stop living for the weekend and for the love of life, stop crying in the restroom?!

Imagine, from now on, it could be “Magic Mondays” and a life you love every day of the week. How fantastic would that be? Contact me today to schedule your free Alignment Strategy call.

Posted in Authenticity, Burnout Prevention, Insights | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Do You Have to Break the Internet to Claim Your Space in the World?

The Internet is Broken!

The Internet is Broken!


“Break the Internet” the caption reads. A voluptuous Kim Kardashian beckons to me with a serious weapon from her feminine arsenal. Alas, it is all wasted on me. Even if she is attractive and has a much bigger … personality than most, I just don’t get why it seems that so many people spend their time soaking up and making space in their lives for so much of the K-West craze and other celebrity-life (over) coverage as possible. Where is the return on that investment? In fact, this brings me to another question altogether: Do you have to break the internet to claim your space, make a difference and leave a legacy in the world?

I am pretty sure the answer is no. Here is are five simple steps for claiming your space and building a legacy life without breaking anything; you don’t even need the internet to do it!

Five Steps to Help You a Live a Legacy-Life that Makes an Impact Now:

1. Identify your core values (what is most important to you) today.
2. Align your goals and actions to your core values so you can start making the difference and the impact you were meant to make in this world.
3. Before you commit to any new goal, before you take any action, run it through the filter of your core values and you will always be on the right path.
4. Ask yourself what you want people to say about you at your funeral and then decide what has to happen for that eulogy to manifest itself when the time comes.
5. Start making a difference right where you are, right now. If you have been waiting for the right sign, say like, breaking the internet, cut it out and take action.
In the words of one of my favorite quotes by Napolean Hill, “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”

If you want help and support to align your goals and actions to your core values, send me an e-mail at coach(at)banks-grasedyck.com or via the contact form on my website: http://www.banks-grasedyck.com. I would love to hear from you!

Posted in A Different Perspective, Insights, Success Tips, Take Charge of Your Life | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Look What I Made and Three Questions for Less Holiday Stress

Sweet potato and Roasted Almond PieChocolate creme pie with whipped mascapone
“Oh my goodness! Those pies look delicious, but holiday baking stresses me, in fact the entire holiday season totally stresses me out!” This is how I was greeted, when recently, I showed up to our church’s Thanksgiving event with my pies.

Please, look at the pies one more time. The one on the left is my very own recipe for sweet potato pie with a top crust of hand-roasted almonds and mini-marshmallows browned to a light crisp. The creation shown right is another of my original pie recipes, a baked chocolate cream pie topped with whipped mascarpone and a variation of hand crumbled milk and dark Lindt German chocolate. I hope you can feel the love that went into making these pies!

The pies are only two beautiful reasons that the holiday season is a magical time for me; I get to do so much of what I enjoy, like inventing my own version of culinary treats. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy helping and inspiring people. I enjoy singing and I crave purposeful action. It is no surprise at all that one of my secret love languages is making special meals for other people, whether at my home, their home or the local city mission. The more I do the things I really enjoy, the more enjoyable everything else becomes and I find that I have much more peace and less stress.

You can also have a stressless holiday by absolutely adhering to this one little tip: stress less and enjoy more!

Hey, was that a cynical laugh that just rose up from the depths of your belly?! Ok, I get it. In the heat of the moment, the rush of traffic, the madness of end of year projects, the duality of the joyful, cheery holiday season and the exhaustion of trying to take it all in, it is not always easy to remember that tip and that is precisely where practice, practice, practice comes into play.

I want to make it easy for you to practice (thank me later), so I have taken the liberty of giving three very common examples of real-life* situations that might be particularly stressful during the holidays. Each example is accompanied by a simple question to ask yourself, that can help you take the stress out of the situation be slightly shifting your perspective.

Choose the example that fits your stress-test occasion and learn to create less stressful experiences and happy endings for your holiday stories:

(*Obviously, these examples are from the real-life of… a good friend and not my own in any way.)

1. Aaaghh! I would rather be beaten with a big stick than go to my office Christmas party!!

If you don’t want to do something, either don’t or figure out what you are getting out of the exchange that is motivating you to do that thing. Ask yourself…

QUESTION: Since I am responsible for my actions, why have I chosen to do this? / What am I getting from this that I am not ready to give up?

2. This is such a stressful time because we have a huge year-end project at work, the office party and all our even so distant relatives converge on us at once!
Honestly, if a giant meteor strikes and all is lost, both that project delay and that visit from nutty Aunt Esmerelda will start to seem much less stressful. Ask yourself…

QUESTION: What is the worst thing that can happen and what boundaries can I create and install to lessen the chance of that happening?

3. Ok. I accept responsibility, that I agreed to [insert bad idea here] because it was the easiest way to end the conversation. I still don’t like it!
Whether it is taking the lead on that project because you hope against all odds it will get it done faster or again hosting the annual 3rd Advent Sunday reunion tea at your place because “it’s bigger”, getting it done has just gotten you one day closer to that holiday resort where you’ll be spending New Year’s Eve with your burning hunk of love.. Oh yeah! And… you always get nice gift boxes of chocolates from the tea party. Ask yourself…

QUESTION: What positive impact can result from this (completing a task, project, a family visit, etc.)?

The best way to stress less including during the holidays is to focus on what makes you happy and what you enjoy and include more of that in your day. For those occasions when that is really hard to do, use the questions given here.

What causes you stress during the holiday season? How do you deal with it?
Need some help with that?

Post your comments and specific questions and I will respond with tips to address your issue.

Posted in Insights | Tagged , | 3 Comments