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Your Performance Appraisal: Is Your EI Working?

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If ever time to work your emotional intelligence, it’s when you have your performance appraisal. After all, when was the last time you said to a friend or your partner, “Gee, I can’t wait until tomorrow — I have my performance appraisal.”

For most, PA triggers all sorts of anxieties and often the process promotes defensiveness peppered with anger with results of disappointment, dejection, and even depression, not the best for inspiring improvement. You can turn it around by using three components of your emotional intelligence — mood management, interpersonal expertise, and self-motivation. I’ll walk you through each.

Mood Management refers to many skills but here it is your ability to manage your emotions. Start by recognizing that emotions are a composite of your thoughts, physical arousal, and actions. Together, these factors form your emotional operating system, each influencing the other. Your goal is to make each work for you rather than against you.

Take your thoughts first. Do you cognitively appraise your performance appraisal as threatening? Telling your self, “This performance appraisal is going to be terrible,” is apt to increase your heartbeat, promote defensive behavior and make it difficult for you to enter your manager’s office with a positive attitude. In effect, your thoughts are working against you.

Help yourself by taking control of your “thought talk” so you can tell yourself, “This is an opportunity to learn how I can be more effective.” This line of thinking will help you be receptive to the information being presented to you.   Tell yourself, “Don’t interrupt. Let the individual fully articulate their thoughts so I can understand what he or she is trying to communicate.” These thoughts will keep you receptive to the evaluation that is coming your way.

if you find yourself interrupting, making excuses, or raising your voice, you’re becoming defensive. Use these behaviors as a cue that your physical arousal is jacked up. The more aroused you become, the more defensive you will act. You can quickly regain control of your arousal by regulating your breathing. Do this by breathing slower and deeper. You’ll find yourself feeling cool, calm, and collected and allow you to listen better.

Managing your thoughts and physical arousal as suggested will help you manage your behavior so you don’t say things impulsively that will get you in trouble.

Interpersonal Expertise refers to your skills for relating well to others. Here, you want to listen and take criticism non-defensively. Most people appraise criticism as being told something negative about themselves so it is no wonder that most people respond defensively when criticized. This translates into not interrupting and making excuses.

Reminding yourself that your goal is to benefit from the appraisal will help you hear criticism as “information that can help you grow.” Your job is to get your boss/supervisor to fully articulate their thoughts so you can gain awareness into how you are perceived. Ask for suggestions that will help you improve so you can formulate an action plan. If you are not understanding what is being said, ask for more information, “Can you tell me more…it would help.” Refrain from making evaluations and debating issues. “I disagree, you are wrong.” Stay non-defensive by using productive thought-talk and regulating your breathing.

Self-Motivation is your ability to get started on your own, especially when you do not fancy the task at hand.  Here, self -motivation is important for helping you take action on what you have learned. To make it easier to self-motivate, take one improvement suggestion at a time — doing so will prevent you from being overwhelmed. Block off a specific time period each day (time lock) to do a specific improvement oriented task (focal lock) such as completing your paper work so you can hand it on time. Monitor your progress and ask your boss for his or her observations on weather or not he or she thinks you are improving. Use their observations to work for you.

Performance appraisal does not have to be filled with anxiety and promote defensiveness and dejection. It can be a great opportunity, about yourself, what is important to your boss, and improve your effectiveness. In effect, all you have to do is put your emotional intelligence to work!

I’d like to hear how you use your EI during your performance appraisals.

 

If you feel pressure giving or receiving a performance appraisal, you may find this useful: https://hankweisingerphd.com/b2c/

 

Mother Nature on Leadership

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What’s you theory of leadership? How do you define and evaluate effective leadership? While we all have our thoughts on leadership, only Mother Nature can take credit for inventing, or more accurately evolving leadership.

Long before leadership development became a business, Mother Nature recognized that effective leadership has evolutionary utility — it advances a group and helps establish the groups (or company’s”) “ecological niche,” the role they play in their environment. Similarly, bad leadership can make a group extinct.

In accordance with evolutionary science, Mother Nature spent little time in defining or theorizing about leadership. Instead, she focused on evolutionary utility– the functions that an effective leader must perform if he or she is to establish a strong ecological niche for the group.

Through the science of natural selection, those leadership functions that helped a leader establish an ecological niche became hardwired into effective leadership behavior. The evidence for this claim is that specific functions become more and more prominent in and across species as you go up the evolutionary ladder.

The better the function is performed, the stronger the group’s ecological niche. The better the functions are performed, the more effective the leadership. Your own observations and experiences will show this to be 100% percent true. Success as a leader can be predicted by how well he or she performs the specific functions.

I’ve read countless books on leadership, have had discussions with many business school “leadership experts,” have listened to many self-proclaimed leadership gurus, have worked with dozens of companies all having their own leadership practices, and I am familiar with the majority of leadership theories.

All in all, when I consider accessibility, application, theoretical coherency, empirical evidence, professional observations, and I’d say that an evolutionary perspective of leadership is the most robust I’ve ever encountered, certainly the most interesting. Give it some thought.

As you review the functions of leadership and the questions they generate, ask yourself how well the leader of your company performs each. Similarly, as head of a division, department, team leader or project manager, assess yourself on how well you perform each function on behalf of those you lead. For the upcoming Presidential election, whom do you think will perform these functions best? To reiterate, leadership success is a function of how well an individual performs these specific functions.

Guard the welfare of the group—How well does your President protect your company? It wasn’t too long ago that it became obvious that leaders of Financial Institutions, Insurance and Auto companies took care of themselves at the expense of their group. How well do you protect your team? Give yourself examples if you can. A Presidential candidate who wants to build up the military to protect the welfare of his group – America –is sure to trump other leaders.
Promote Harmony: Few, if any groups advance when their people war with each other —those countries that do occupy the smallest ecological niche. Why do you think emotional intelligence evolved? So people could write books on the subject and give presentations? Emotional intelligence evolved because it helps promote harmony among people. How well does your leader promote a culture that is characterized by productive conflict resolution and fairness, cooperation instead of competition, listening, empathy and positive criticism? These are all skills that help a leader achieve harmony within the group. How well do you promote harmony in your relationships and family? It was smart for Trump to pronounce that he is a “peacemaker” in his recent foreign policy speech.

Direct the Course –The alpha wolf stays several steps ahead of the pack. He does this so he can direct the pack’s course of travel to find a prey. Similarly, effective leadership requires directing the group on a path that will lead to success—developing their ecological niche. Does your CEO have a clear vision to where he or she wants to take the company and a strategy to do it? How well do you set the course of your team? Do you communicate expectations and clarify goals? Does your staff understand where you are leading them? Which Presidential Candidate do you think can direct a successful course for America to take? Whose vision of America do you prefer?

Procreate the Group –It’s an ecological law –the more members of a species, the less likely it is endangered. Mother Nature tells us that a leadership function is to ensure the future of the group, to make it procreate so the group inevitably becomes self-perpetuating. How well does your leader develop talent and retain talent? How well do you develop your staff? Which Presidential candidate do you think is more likely to help America grow economically?

To improve your leadership skills, learn how to manage pressure. https://hankweisingerphd.com/b2c/

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

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If you are interested in developing your emotional intelligence, watch this video from a few years ago.  And watch the whole video, not just the first ten minutes or less.https:

Dr. Hendrie Weisinger – Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a Technology Manager’s Greatest Asset – RPS 2012
vimeo.com
Emotional Intelligence factors are now considered to have a greater impact on individual and group performance than traditional measures, such as IQ. According to Dr …

 

 

 

Would You Rather Marry Stress or Pressure?

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One, if not the most frequent question I am asked when speaking on the topic of performing under pressure is, “What is the difference between stress and pressure?” Most people, even academic researchers, mistakenly use the two terms interchangeably. Here’s the difference:

Stress occurs when you perceive the demands of the situation outweigh your abilities to respond. Too many bills too little cash is a stressful situation most of America can relate too. Stressful situations transform into feelings of being overwhelmed.   Your goal is stress reduction.

Pressure occurs when you are in a situation in which you have something at stake and the outcome is dependent on your performance. Pressure moments transform into feelings of having to perform successfully often with attached feeling of impending doom if you don’t. When you are in a pressure moment, your goal is to perform, to deliver the goods.

Most individuals blur the difference and merge the feelings of stress and pressure — they respond to stressful moments as though they are do or die pressure moments thus causing themselves to be on high alert 24/7. This was okay for early man because for him, stressful moments were pressure moments and failure to perform the task at hand—finding food, escaping a predator-did lead to extinction.   As man evolved and began to master the tasks his environment demanded upon him, the do- or die pressure moments became less frequent. Every stressful moment was no longer a do or die moment. An unsuccessful hunting day was buffered by the fact that there were still vegetables and fruits. No one would starve.

This is true today. We have many stressful moments, but they are not all pressure moments. When we confuse the two, our emotional response to daily stressful demands is out of proportion. We end up wasting valuable psychological capital that would be better served helping us perform our best in actual pressure moments when we need to do our best. Remember, pressure adversely downgrades our performance so adding “extra pressure” to an already stressful day only makes you perform worse, be it when making decisions or relating to others at work and at home.

A useful tip I’ve learned: every time you feel pressure, ask yourself, “Do I feel overwhelmed,” or “Do I have to produce a specific response.”   If you answer, “overwhelmed,” you are most likely experiencing nothing more than the daily stress of multiple demands. Take a few deep breaths to relax, prioritize your tasks, delegate when you can; these are all familiar stress management techniques that can help you right now feel less overwhelmed by the demands upon you.

If you have to produce a specific response, be it a decision or presentation, it’s a pressure moment. Relax, and then direct your attention to the specific task you have to perform so you can produce it.

If you still need further clarification, consider whom you would rather be married to: Stress or Pressure?

If your partner is Stress, you’re told: “Do this, Do This, Do this, and when you are done, do that.”

A barrage of nagging demands (stressors) is made upon you. Upon rational analysis, you are quite certain that reality would dictate no mortal soul could respond satisfactory to the Nag—the demands are endless.   While you use to get upset, you learned that your salvation is the realization that although you live with a Nag you really don’t have to do what the Nag requires. Instead, you can deal with the stress of the many demands, by for example using humor or making a compromise or increasing your business travel to get some respite. Exhaustion, frustration, and anger are the frequent feelings associated with living with a Nag.

If your partner is Pressure, there will still be demands made upon you, but with addition. Besides telling you what you have to do, your Pressure also tells you that you better succeed or put yourself at risk. In other words, if pressure could speak, it would say: “You have to do this specific task and you have to do it successfully. Or you are out.” Indeed, many people would testify that their relationship ended when he or she –or their partner– did not perform to expectations. Threatened, anxious, fearful, and insecure are the feelings you are apt to experience when you live with a Pressure partner.

Stress may be a painful Nag—often to get you to do things, for your own good. A pain-in-the neck friend if you will. Pressure is a different story. It threatens you and worsens your performance.   It’s no friend. It’s your nemesis, a villain in your life.

Stress & Pressure —while they go together like a horse and carriage, you can have one without the other!

Check out my new online workshop, https://hankweisingerphd.com/b2c/

Your Emotional Messages

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Most writings on managing emotions speak to the topic by providing generic emotional management strategies: taking charge of your thoughts, use relaxation to decrease your physiological arousal, take control of and generate effective behavior patterns, take time out to calm down and even have a laugh. All of these strategies are necessary but not sufficient if you are to manage your emotions most effectively. For that to happen, you must respond to the messages of your emotions.

An important component of emotional intelligence is to understand what emotions communicate so that you can respond to their message. How you manage anger is different than how you manage anxiety and how you manage anxiety is different than how you manage dejection. Similarly, how you respond to an angry co-worker is different than how you respond to an anxious or dejected co-worker. Emotions communicate different messages and each requires a specific response to manage it. We all know that emotions that are ignored continue to bug us. Evolutionary psychology helps us here.

EP tells us the function of emotions is to communicate information so, you can enhance your emotional savvies by responding to the message of the emotions.  Evolutionary explanations aside, when you’re frustrated, your emotion is communicating that you are not meeting your goals; anxiety tells you that you are uncertain; anger is an alarm letting you know that something is wrong, and dejection says you feel no hope.

Thus, manage your frustration and the frustration of those you may advise by establishing short -term goals so that feelings of accomplishment can be achieved.

If you are anxious, ask yourself what you are uncertain about and then take steps to reduce your uncertainty. If you are anxious about whether a client is going to stay the course or jump ship, or whether you are going to be given a desired assignment by your boss, make the call and find out.   Depending on their response, you might be upset or euphoric but having taken uncertainty out of the loop, your anxiety will dissolve and you can move ahead.

For anger, ask yourself “what’s wrong?” and know that your thoughts are becoming distorted — mountains instead of mole-hills and lots of blaming of the innocent. Use your relaxation response to make your perceptions accurate and use anger management self- statements: “I can handle this. What is the well adjusted, wisest action for me to take?” If the news is bad, cool angry investors by pointing out they are losing less money than others, and if that isn’t true, take the stance, “we will figure out the best course to take.” Anger is often created by unrealistic expectations so everyone on the Street would be acting with emotional intelligence by clarifying and assessing their expectations.

For the dejected and depression prone, check your internal thoughts for doomsday thinking — they’re killing your hope for the future. Also, get your feelings out, talk about your fears but then give yourself the challenge: “what do I need to do to make business better?”

Respond to the message of your emotions and you will find yourself better off. You will be acting emotionally intelligent.

To deal with your emotions more effectively, check out the new online E Workshop, Performing Under Pressure: https://hankweisingerphd.com/b2c/

Relationship Pressure —it can bust you up

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When was the last time you came home and complained to your partner that your relationship needs more pressure? I’d bet the answer is “Never” and for good reason. I’ve studied the topic for 25 years and can report to you these two facts. First pressure adversely impacts all relationships. Second couples that have learned to handle pressure are far better off than their counterparts who can’t.

While we all feel under pressure at work to achieve successful results, relationship pressure occurs when either or both partners feel forced to act/think/feel/ in a particular way to please the other or experience negative consequences.  For example, one partner might pressure the other to start a family before the he or she feels ready. When we are forced to act a particular way to gain acceptance, resentment, anger, and insecurity in the pressured partner becomes aroused, and when he or she succumbs to the pressure put upon them, the decision made is usually regretted.

Regardless of the source of our pressure feelings, the common denominator is relationship pressure creates havoc. That’s not surprising when you consider pressure sabotages three successful relationship essentials:

Communication. Anger often colors the communications; critical and blaming comments, interrupting each other, refusal to compromise, are typical communication patterns that occur when one or both partners feel pressured. None of them help a relationship thrive and all of them prompt couples to make decisions they later regret.

How You Treat Each Other. Relationship pressure creates anxiety and tension between partners. Because most couples perceive issues that create pressure as threatening, they cope by withdrawing and avoiding the other and in the process decrease demonstrations of affection, support, and statements of reassurance. Because each blames the other for their feelings of pressure, resentment and anger builds.

Intimacy. If there is one room couples need to lock out pressure, it’s the bedroom. Pressure affects a couple’s sex life in two ways. First, daily feelings of pressure —whether it istems from work or the relationship — decrease romantic feelings and sexual desire. If this is true for only one partner, the other is apt to become angry and often ends up demanding the other for more sexual activity that intensifies relationship pressure. When its true for both partners, the abrupt decrease in sexual desire makes it obvious to both partners that there is a “problem,” but because discussion of the topic is perceived as threatening and anxiety arousing, the conversation is avoided. In essence, pressure creates sexual distance.

What about couples who feel no relationship pressure and desire sexual intimacy? Pressure gets them too in the form “spectating.” The person, usually males, becomes self -conscious and worried about how he is “performing.” The excessive worry about his sexual performance and whether he is pleasing his partner results in blocking his natural sexual response — he fails to perform. In turn, he feels more pressure to perform the next time he is “at bat.”  Spectating or becoming overly self-conscious is a frequent reason people “choke” when performing a well-rehearsed presentation or a behavior they’ve performed thousands of times, like a golf swing. “He’s thinking too much,” is how the sports announcer says it.

While you nor your partner can escape feelings of pressure at work or at home, you and your partner can make your relationship more pressure-less by using the following pressure solutions, all geared to helping you reduce the distressful feelings of pressure, keep you and your partner focused in a positive direction, and increase positive emotions that are natural pressure reducers:

  1. Share your pressure feelings without blame. When feeling pressured, tell your partner, “I am feeling pressured,” rather than, “Stop pressuring me,” or “You always pressure me to do things.” Sharing feelings without blame promotes understanding, positive communication and intimacy, all of which decrease feelings of pressure.
  2. Slow down communication. Before those “pressure conversations,” remind yourself your goal is resolution, not escalation. Remain calm, speak slowly, and breathe normally –it keeps you in control of yourself so you can stay focused on the issues.
  3. Bedroom fun. Reduce pressure in the bedroom by remembering sex is for enjoyment and communicating positive feelings. Focus on pleasure, not performance. Music in the background will also distract you from worrying about how you are performing.
  4. Reduce daily feelings of pressure. Spend time appreciating your relationship and celebrate often. Get into the habit of reflecting on past positive times and expressing positive feelings to each other. Doing so increases relationship enthusiasm and optimism that reduce daily feelings of pressure.

     Pressure is inherent in every relationship but those who make their relationships pressure-less have a much better chance to live happily ever after.

May the pressure NOT be with you!

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How To Criticize Your Boss

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Ever since I wrote my first NY Times bestseller, Nobody’s Perfect: How to Give Criticism and Get Results, I have given hundreds of presentations on the subject of giving and taking criticism (when everyone else was using the bogus word “feedback”) to the most elite corporations, government organizations, and professional organizations such as YPO. Literally, I have asked thousands of working folks, “What is your most difficult criticism encounter?”

Hands down, “How do you criticize your boss?” is the most frequently asked and most difficult criticism encounter identified by the working world. The solution, of course, varies across bosses and situations, but you will give yourself a head start if you rid yourself of the belief that if you criticize your boss, you will suffer negative repercussions, a perception, that most individuals say is the major barrier to criticizing their boss.

While it is true that this scenario plays out occasionally, it is the exception. Most bosses—especially those who claim to be emotionally intelligent, authentic, and mindful—welcome criticism from their subordinates. In fact, there are dozens of studies showing a key attribute of effective leaders is that they seek out criticism of themselves because they see it as valuable information that can help them succeed.  What they do not like is being embarrassed, threatened or undermined. For criticism that is packed with these qualities, negative repercussions are the norm. More than any other work criticism encounter, successfully critiquing your boss not only includes what you say but how you say it. In other words, psychology comes into play.

What is most important for you to recognize is that unlike criticizing your subordinate, you do not have the authority to tell your boss what to do; your best play is to position the information to him or her in a way that increases his or her receptivity to your thoughts and perhaps prompts action.

Thus, techniques for criticizing upward do not rely on direct, overt communication. The chain of command prohibits you from telling your superior that he’s an idiot or that he made another foolish mistake, even if the superior says such things to you daily. Instead, to criticize upward and create change, you must rely on informal relationships, timing, ambiguity, self-restraint, and implicit communication and perhaps overcome your boss’s perception of whether you are a worthy source of criticism. You need to master guerilla warfare.

For openers, adhere to these major ground rules:

Make sure your boss is receptive to criticism. There are no absolute ways to do this so use some soft signs: does your boss openly solicit criticism (your evaluations) and act upon those criticisms that are valid? Is your boss available to you, or do you have to spend a week just to set up a meeting? If you think your boss has low receptivity to criticism, than you may be politically wise to learn how to adapt to the situation than to criticize your boss, unless, of course, you can be extremely “artistic”

Make sure it is appropriate to criticize your boss. Only criticize your boss for something he or she is doing that affects your work; For situations in which you are not part of the project but the success of the project impacts your job, you will be able to still give your criticism, but only if you can demonstrate that the action your boss takes affects your job. Otherwise you will be told politely or not, “It’s none of your business.”
Know what you are talking about. Usually, your boss does not expect criticism from you, a tough expectation to combat. Therefore, it is essential for you to remember to validate your criticism; otherwise your boss may not only dismiss it but may begin to see you in a negative light, which no doubt will affect your job. Some ways for you to validate your criticism include collecting and analyzing data, accurately documenting how your boss’s actions affect your work; and, if possible, consulting with other people.

Avoid a power struggle. Any strategy for criticizing your boss must protect his or her self esteem and acknowledge implicitly or explicitly that he or she is the superior; otherwise your boss is apt to become defensive and you can always count on the fact that once you and your boss lock horns, your boss will come out on top. The results for you are that your criticism is rejected and the status quo is maintained.

One proven-effective technique for criticizing your boss is based on findings in attribution psychology as well as your own experiences; you can often get people to be receptive to your thoughts when they are attributed to a different source rather than yourself. This helps you avoid power struggles and be protective of your boss’s self esteem.

To implement, present your criticism in a way that emphasizes the validity of the criticism per se. The point here is not to present yourself as a valid source of criticism but to present your criticism as important and valid information. You are maximizing the significance of the information rather than taking the position that you, the subordinate, know best.

Instead of coming on as a know-it-all, you present yourself s sharing valuable data that relate to both your jobs. Your boss, instead of having to accept or reject a criticism, is now in the face-saving position of merely having to evaluate the information you are supplying. If the information is valid, there is an excellent chance your superior will take action to implement his decision. Some ways you can build up the validity of your criticism are: citing authoritative sources, submitting supportive material, and showing reference material to your superior.

A data analyst for a financial institution used this technique in criticizing his department head for the IT system he was considering. Instead of telling his boss that he we choosing the wrong system or that he knew which he should buy, the date analyst gave his boss several current reports that indicted anther system would be more responsive to their needs. His boss, after reading the articles, changed his choice n thanked her subordinate for supplying her with “invaluable information.”

What about the impossible bosses? For such bosses, subordinates must create and develop different criticism strategies until one is successful. Some possible solutions:

When a stoic boss doesn’t tell you where you stand, bring up the organization’s goals as a basis for determining specific criteria for next year’s performance rating, so “together” you can monitor your performance accordingly.

If the boss is crisis maker, develop a strong network of relationships with coworkers that will help you get information you need to assess the reality of the crisis.

When the boss is over controlling, work out of the office a lot if possible, and frequently reassure the boss that you’re on target.

If your boss is abrasive at a meeting, right after, perhaps a one liner to pique his receptivity will start dialogue and change: “I’m not quite sure the way you are coming across is in your best interest.”

If the boss is truly impossible, if he has a short temper, or if he never listens, then attempt to offer criticism only if you can be clever and creative.

Gear your strategy to answering the question: “How can I communicate this information so that my boss perceives it as useful?

If you have a specific criticism to give your boss and you lack the know-how, let me know and I will be happy to script it out for you.

Your Comeback Tool Box

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You seem to be going along just fine, when — wham! — a setback sends you veering off course. Your forward movement comes to a grinding halt and your motivation plummets. At such times, your self-esteem may crash as well, leaving you waylaid by feelings of fear, doubt, and hopelessness.

It’s not easy to deal with setbacks — they are emotionally arousing, draining, and taxing. The good news, though, is there are specific skills that can help you turn a setback into a comeback. The key is to remember to use them. Here is your comeback toolkit:

1. Tune in to your thoughts. Many will be exaggerated and irrational statements: “My life is over, I’m a failure.” Counterpunch using rational thoughts that give you perspective: “It’s not the end of the world, I will have many other chances.”

2. Use your sense of humor. Doing so will help reduce your negativity, restore your perspective, and the endorphins will energize you making productive actions easier to do.

3. Practice relaxation. Doing a relaxation exercise a few times a day will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and stressed out and keep your thinking rational.

4. Engage in physical activity. Keeping active energizes you for positive action and prevents you from sitting home and feeling sorry for yourself.

5. Use your support team. Don’t complain to them but go to them to help you problem solve.

6. Reassess goals and priorities. A setback becomes a great time to look for new life path.

7. Make yourself hopeful. Hope is the best of all possible things Instill hope in your self by identifying and creating multiple pathways —different resources and strategies that you can use to achieve your goals. The more pathways you develop, the more optimistic you will become making you confident that you will achieve the goals you desire. When this happens, “You’re back baby!”

Setbacks happen to all of us. I suggest you make a list of the tools mentioned and keep them in sight — you’ll be more likely to use them and it will be easier to turn a setback into a comeback.

I’m sure you have your comeback tools too — I’d like to hear them.