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Setting the Tone

23 May


Your attitude is crucial to your success today. Have you ever wondered how some days everything seems to go wrong? It seems like one mess-up leads to more and before you know it you wish you could just crawl back into bed to start over.

When I was a kid this was termed as “getting up on the wrong side of the bed.”

Choose your side of the bed today. Determine that no matter what happens you will turn it around with a can-do attitude. Smile even when you don’t feel like it. You will send a signal to your body that you are going to make it through today. Not only are you going to survive … you are going to thrive in the midst of it all.

What do you do to switch your attitude?
How do you stop yourself from the downward spiral once it gets started?
Do you have a story of how this really works?

Karen Sebastian is an author, blogger, corporate training executive and gifted speaker who transparently shares the hope she has found in the darkest times of her life.  She is a seasoned entrepreneur who founded HOPEpreneurs, a consulting firm dedicated to helping women succeed personally and professionally. Karen is known as The Hope Lady because she  takes every opportunity to inspire hope by sharing her rich life experience with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. 


10 Encouragement Boosters

7 Jul

Encouragement infuses hope or confidence of a positive outcome despite difficult circumstances. Let’s face it, we live in a challenging world. Current financial situations, personal issues, health issues, and difficulties in starting a profitable business can strip us of our joy and the resolve to move forward. Affirming words create an atmosphere where we can believe that things are going to be okay even in the midst of difficult times. It is not about ignoring the very real problems that exist but rather infusing courage to take the next step to resolve them.

1. Acknowledge tough times

How do you feel when someone makes light of the situation when they have no idea what you’re going through? Many times in our effort to help others in their struggles, we minimize the obstacles they face. Instead of strengthening their resolve, we demoralize them.   Do you remember how you felt as you were going from one grade into the next when in school? Just because you’ve made it through, don’t forget the struggles. Instead, reassure the person who comes to you that they have come to the right place to find a sounding board to help them work through these hard times.

2. Look at both sides of the issue

My friend, Michele Markey with SheVenture says, “No matter how flat the pancake is, it still have two sides.” Often those who are discouraged, are only looking at one side of the situation and it’s usually the downer side. Write down all the unfavorable conditions without saying them out loud. List them or put them in a web or mind map. The important part is to get them down on paper. Take a few minutes to number them with the greatest obstacle first.

3. Listen

One of the hardest things to do when someone is sharing their problems is to keep from jumping in with the perfect solution for them. The greatest gift you can give someone is to listen and ask questions that allow them to keep sharing what’s going on. Some people process as they talk so it’s hard to see them go in circles. If this happens, paraphrase what you’ve heard them say so far. This will help them to distill their information and get closer to a workable solution.

4. Set a timer for discussing the problems

The only danger with being a good listener is that the person you are trying to help regain their edge may get stuck in the negative cycle that pulls them down even further. I would suggest that you use a timer and agree on the amount of time they might need to discuss the problems. Otherwise, you will get pulled down also. Remember that you want to encourage  them and that won’t happen if you spend all your time looking at the negative side.

5. Shift the conversation to the positive

Once the timer has gone off, it’s time to change the channel and start looking at the positive side of the situation. This is very hard for some people. As the encourager ask questions like:

  • What’s the bigger picture here?
  • If you take a step back can you see some of the amazing things that are happening in your life?
  • What do you want to see happen in this situation?
  • What is one thing you’ve learned during this difficult time?
  • Who have you been able to help now that you have experience in this area?

6. Rebound by finding 5 things that are going well

After they answer the questions, inspire them to explore what’s going well or any good that has resulted from the difficulties. The goal of our lives should not be to take it easy but rather to grow, develop and become stronger as we overcome challenges. It’s about learning and growing. You may have to give the first one but after they get going, you will notice a marked shift. For more on the 5:1 ratio check out ABT in Action.

7. Express what you admire most about that person

Applaud their efforts and reassure them that they are unstoppable if they will move forward. Focus on the qualities that make them who they are and not on their appearance or what they’ve done. You don’t have to say a lot, in fact, most people will be a little uncomfortable with this part of the process since we rarely receive pats on the back.

8. Use honoring words

Honoring words are those that focus on your intrinsic value and character. Accentuating these positive qualities can become a life-long transformational habit. If you are at a loss to come up with words, create an alphabetic list of honoring descriptors. Add to it regularly.

9. Check in frequently

Establish a process of encouraging that person for several weeks. It doesn’t take a lot of time to reach out to them with a call, email, tweet of Facebook post. It doesn’t take much time to reach out and brighten their day. Additionally, you will begin to find renewed energy as you look for ways to encourage others.

10. Keep the momentum going

There are many avenues you can use to encourage others. Write a note in which you include the honoring words. Before long encouraging, reassuring, praising, restoring and strengthening others will become a way of life. What a great life it is!

Karen Sebastian is a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed in your business. She is a certified facilitator with Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac. Subscribe to this blog for more inspiration on how to become a HOPEpreneur. Please email her at if you would like to book her as a speaker or want one-on-one coaching to accelerate your personal and professional growth.

How to Learn the Really Important Lessons

30 Jan

We learn many of our most valuable lessons through experience

Successful entrepreneurs are usually pretty stubborn. We could use a lot of fancy words to describe this quality but the bottom line is that they don’t give up. Rather, they learn from their experiences and change as they continue to take steps in the right direction. It is in this adaptation and willingness to fail that they come up with the very best ideas.

When you look back on the jobs you’ve had, the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons learned, how do you refer to them? I trust that you now can laugh and applaud the effort, however misguided it might have been. Many of us struggle to give ourselves a ‘pat on the back.’

Encourage others that you mentor by applauding their efforts. Settle once and for all that the only ones who make no mistakes are the ones who are doing nothing.

What was your biggest lesson learned through experience?

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