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June 2014, from Kim Ratz, Speaker-Trainer-Troubadour

Nothing fancy -- just a free, fast & fun read to inspire hope, improve skills to cope,
and induce some fun along the way. (To see previous issues: Click Here)

A Thought to Help You Live&WorkWise: Managing "Out-of-Comfort-Zone" Moments ...

Last Tuesday, as I thought I was finishing up this article about how to manage those "Out-of-comfort-zone moments" (OOCZM), I suddenly found myself in an OOCZM as I heard news reports about the shooting incident at Reynolds High School in the greater Portland, Oregon area. This was way too close to home for me, as two of my sister's sons attend there! As I watched the live coverage of students evacuating the school I was anxiously scanning faces for my nephews; I also texted my sister who I knew was having an "Out-of-her-MIND!" moment to ask if she heard from them yet. She had to wait for over an hour before she knew they were both okay, and for 2.5 hours before she was finally re-united with both of them. Turns out one of my nephews knew both the 14 year old student who was killed, and the student who did the shooting. In fact, he would have been in class with the student shooter, had that student not been doing what he did that morning. My nephew said he was just wondering where the student was since he wasn't in class that morning (2nd to last day of school), and then the shooting began ... Talk about being out of your comfort zone!!!

The Reynolds HS shooting is the 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary just 18 months ago! I still can't believe enough people haven't said "ENOUGH!" yet, and that this trend now appears to be well established ... And as is human nature, it was a big deal during the 24 hour heat of the news coverage, and now it's already slipping into the fog of so many other past tragedies ... The pain will get triggered again by the next tragedy, the specifics of past past incidents will be blurred, yet we'll still feel the pain of the growing numbers of incidents and casualties. Yet as parents, educators and people who work with children, it doesn't get much more uncomfortable than this: worrying that you, along with innocent children and your colleagues could be harmed or even killed in what should be a safe place. And in moments of distress and emergency even a minute can seem like an eternity ... And because of all the heightened emotions and awareness during these OOCZMs, we tend to remember them better too, and sometimes they have long-term consequences on one's mental, physical and emotional health!

What also concerns me is another trend: many people appear to be managing the OOCZM of a school shooting with a shrug of the shoulders, a sense of complacency, even acceptance, as in a sense of "normalcy." We can and must do better than that! Because if we grow complacent about these school shootings, then what are we doing about the more less consequential yet frequent OOCZMs that are caused by common stresses like an uncomfortable interaction with someone, a new task, or a challenging situation, especially if we perceive there is risk? We have OOCZMs just going through the routines and roles of our everyday lives. They are those moments when you want to complain, or cry, or quit, when you doubt your competence and confidence, when you feel like you've got it so rough, or life isn't fair ...

"It's not so much what happens, it's more what you do."

Everyone has OOCZMs, and since we'll all have more of them there's a huge WIIFM ("What's In It For Me") to be good at managing them when they DO happen. Here are a few reminders of things you can do to manage your next OOCZM, including tips for leaders, because sometimes the reward for stepping up and doing your best during an OOCZM can be very satisfying!

  • Take a quick time-out and breathe ... Slow things down for a moment and focus ...

  • Self awareness. Be aware of your "self talk" and the messages you give yourself. Acknowledge your reality, and give yourself permission to better understand what's really going on right now. For example, when you're thinking: "This is hard and I can't do this, or I want to quit," follow up with the question: "Why, What's really going on, what's the problem, and how serious is it really?" Be specific, don't exaggerate the problem, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt that you can rise to this challenge too ...

  • Give yourself options. Ask yourself what you CAN do instead of focusing on what you can't do; complaining or quitting aren't your only options. Take a break, reframe the situation, moderate your pace, do something different for a while, talk to someone, ask for help, remind yourself of the goal or WIIFM for getting it done -- and done well ...

  • Remember the reframing technique of asking yourself three important questions, and pay attention to your immediate response:
    1. How is this mindset serving me well?
    2. What's the worst thing that could happen if I: (you fill in the blank here)?
    3. What am I waiting for?

  • Remember the serenity prayer: For the courage to change what you can, the serenity to accept that which you can't change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And because so many of you are formal and informal leaders in your schools / organizations, here a couple of thoughts to manage your OOCZM as a leader in times of distress/emergency:

  • See the above. As a leader, you set the tone. This is when it's time to lead by example; it's important that we model for others how to use some discipline and skill to deal with the situation as a professional.

  • Anticipation is half the battle -- Have a plan, communicate the plan, and practice/revise the plan so people have the chance to be safer. Sadly, in addition to conducting drills for a fire, earthquake, tornado or other predictable emergencies in schools and other workplaces, we also need to add the "lockdown" drill ... You hope you never have to use it, yet if someone enters a school or workplace with a weapon and threatens harm you don't want people wondering what to do. You want them to know what to do and how to do it, and to practice it. Unfortunately, we've had enough experience with school and workplace shootings that there are now some "best practices" that if adopted and followed can increase the chances of protecting the occupants, and minimizing the chances of injury and death. Pick a search engine and look for "school/workplace security for lockdowns;" One example I found for starters: Jefferson County Schools in KY ...

  • Specifically: Practice a code word or phrase you will use for this emergency, which prompts staff to carry out the plan for this emergency and how to communicate. Most people just need to be reminded what to do. That's why having a plan and the practice is so important, so that when people hear the code word, whether it's "lockdown" or whatever else is practiced, they know what to do and what not to do, they follow the plan, and instruct whoever they are with to remain calm and what to do.

  • Meet with your first responders about how to communicate and cooperate with them if needed due to an emergency at your workplace. The resources are there in your community to help you make your workplace more secure for these kinds of emergencies.

If you have the discipline to remember and do these basic things, it's much more likely that you will not only get through your next OOCZM -- you may even realize some unexpected benefits or rewards along the way ...

Dates still available for Fall and "Back-to-School" Workshops & Conferences

It's still not too late for leaders to be planning your fall in-service topics, date and trainer, and I still have some dates open in August and into the fall, and would love to help you:

  • Provide your employees / members with a program that reinforces some important communication skills that sometimes get unused or misused when people feel like they are in a hurry, or it won't matter, or no one will notice, or do anything about it ...

  • Give your employees/members a chance to think about the kind of year they want to have, and to be intentional about their attitudes and actions as individuals and team members so that the workplace is a positive, productive and safe environment to be in, the service is excellent, and employees feel good about working there and motivated to do a good job ...

  • Help you start the year on an upbeat note that everyone hears together, and that you can reinforce throughout the year.

    "Playing Nice in the Sandbox" continues to be a very well received program by groups of people who work in early childhood and K-12 education because it's a re-affirming review of skills and strategies that help people keep their busy workplace "Sandbox" a great place to work for you and your coworkers, and where great service is provided. The program needs a minimum of 90 minutes, and can be up to half-day or full-day too; each program is customized to who is in the room, their jobs, and how the skills need to be applied.

    This program has also been well received by "non-school" groups (extensive client list at: Client List who want a chance to offer this kind of program to their employees or members, because it's about communication and relationship skills that help in your own professional performance, teamwork with coworkers, service to your customers, and leadership to your staff/members. It's suitable for state conferences or a local staff workshop, and when held with an "intact group" of people who work together regularly we also spend time to discuss how to apply the information to their specific issues and opportunities.

    I also enjoy doing a "keynote" type presentation to all-staff groups to help kick off a new school year, and this allows me to cover more ideas and information about how to improve our discipline of how we engage our attitudes, which are the doorway from which come our actions through word and deed, which then helps further reinforce how a lot of success when we communciate and relate with others is about the "attitudes" we take into those interactions and situations, including times of change ... Feel free to share this with your leadership team in case they are looking for such a message for your whole team ...

    If you are still planning an event for late summer or fall to help your workers grow their skills to their next levels, and the above program sounds like it could help, then call me soon so we can see if your date works, and how this could help you meet this important goal!

    Quotes related to "Out-of-Comfort-Zone-Moments" for the days ahead ...

    We are so accustomed to the comforts of "I cannot," "I don't want to" and "It's too difficult" that we forget to realize when we stop doing things for ourselves and expect others to dance around us, we are not achieving greatness. We have made ourselves weak. - Pandora Poikilos, Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out

    The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun. - Benedict Cumberbatch

    Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end ... Because in the end, it shows you a whole new world! Make an attempt. - Manoj Arora, From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom

    Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones. We have to break the rules. And we have to discover the sensuality of fear. We need to face it, challenge it, dance with it. - Kyra Davis

    You know something, it's not easy to break out of your comfort zone. People will tear you down, tell you you shouldn't have bothered in the first place. But let me tell you something, there's not much of a difference between a stadium full with cheering fans and an angry crowd screaming abuse at you. They're both just making a lot of noise. How you take it is up to you. Convince yourself they're cheering for you. You do that, and someday, they will. - Glee

    Even your pure intention might disturb the comfort zone of others. - Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

    The best way to develop people is to constantly get them out of their comfort zone. - Ziad K. Abdelnour

    You can't be a successful leader or mentor until you have served. You can't serve until you have stepped out of your comfort zone. And you can't step out of your comfort zone unless you have character and keep your word. - Bill Courtney, Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love

    Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. - Brian Tracy

    A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown. - Denis Waitley

    The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears. - Dan Stevens

    Be willing to step outside your comfort zone once in a while; take the risks in life that seem worth taking. The ride might not be as predictable if you'd just planted your feet and stayed put, but it will be a heck of a lot more interesting. - Edward Whitacre, Jr.

    Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. - Neale Donald Walsch

    I don't like to be out of my comfort zone, which is about a half an inch wide. - Larry David

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