“Developing Leaders Others WANT to follow”

- Tracy Washington,  Leadership & Transition Strategist

 Helping people get out of their present and into their future.

Independent Certified John Maxwell Speaker, Trainer & Coach  Leadership Is Influence


An In-Depth Discussion on Grief & Job Loss

Why Positive Thoughts Don’t Work


By now most of you have heard that your thoughts create your reality. Have you ever became “consciously aware” of what you’re thinking?  I’m talking about REALLY evaluating your thoughts.


This is a practice you can do each and everyday to become fully aware of what you’re thinking about.  Just don’t let thoughts that are not fruitful or taking you in the direction you want to go take up residence in your head.  If your thoughts are creating your reality that means you can consciously change your thoughts thereby changing your life…RIGHT? YOU have the ability to choose what you’re thinking about.  Whichever direction you want to go in your life, think on that instead of thinking about where you DON’T WANT TO GO.


Watch the video by clicking here.

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Responsibility And Accountability After Job Loss

Being RESPONSIBLE is defined as “answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management…” At times it can be difficult for job seekers to take responsibility for their lives.  No one expects to lose a job. When a job loss occurs that is an event beyond our control and it shatters the very myth that we are in control of everything in our lives. An unexpected job loss will enlighten us to the fact that we are NOT in control and despite our best efforts to perform well on our jobs we still can find ourselves feeling hopeless, rejected and victimized. Falling into this trap of the victim mentality renders jobseekers unable to see possibilities.  That’s a big problem in thinking of themselves as victims that have little or no control over their lives.

Having the victim mentality can “feel good” at various times to jobseekers because when other people are concerned it makes them feel good about themselves.  To have others embrace them instead of rejecting them feels great; however this wears off – quickly!  There comes a time when feeling sorry for themselves doesn’t cut it!  When victims feel sorry for themselves they fail to take action which renders them stuck and little progress is made.  Taking action is one of the best ways to stop feeling like a victim.  Now I’m all for processing the grief associated with job loss but there comes a time when action is required.  Working through the emotional impact is extremely important because moving forward and letting go of the “emotional baggage” of the last relationship with a job will be key to developing a good attitude on the next one.

In addition to serving the needs of  jobseekers, Workforce Professionals are becoming coaches.  Helping jobseekers to move forward will require replacing the story that their playing in their heads of being victimized and rejected on their last job.  Here are three Strategic Results questions on how to help jobseekers shift their paradigm and attitudes to take responsibility and change their story in their job search.


  • What do you want?

Strategic Result: Makes them think about how their current actions or non-actions align with what they say they really want.


  • What did you like or didn’t you like on your last job?

Strategic Result: Will cause the jobseeker to identify attributes of the former job that will shift their attitudes in finding a job that fits their personality and makes them happy.


  • What happens in your life and in the lives of your loved ones if nothing changes? 

Strategic Result:  Allows the jobseeker to see in his own mind what happens if no action is taken to improve the current circumstances.


This line of powerful questioning will cause the jobseeker to search within for their own answers and puts the responsibility on them to improve their circumstances and not attempt to shift the responsibility of what’s happening in their lives on to you, their environment or the economy.


Next week we will discuss Limiting Beliefs that keep jobseekers from taking responsibility and exercising their free will to change their lives.


Tracy Washington is an Independent Certified John Maxwell Trainer, Speaker & Coach who trains Workforce Development Professionals and the Career Services Industry on Transition, Communication and Leadership.  She can be reached at Tracy@TracyWashington.com or (888)715-9977


What Not To Say And What To Say

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Victor1558

Most of us mean well when we interact with a person who is grieving over losing a job.  We attempt to be sympathetic and caring towards the person but often times the words we speak are not helpful.  Grieving job-seekers are sensitive to the language that is used in interacting with them.

Here is a list things you should and should not say when interacting with a grieving job-seeker:

What NOT to say

  • “Don’t feel bad – you’ll find another job or something else will come along.”
  • “Time heals all wounds – just give it time.”
  • “Just keep busy.”
  • “I know how you feel.”

Helpful things TO say

  • “I’m sorry to hear about your job.”
  • “I don’t know what to say”.

The list for what to say is shorter on purpose.  We should deal with hurting job-seekers from a humanistic, transparent perspective rather than a “case” or a “client”.  A little human tenderness goes a long way.  Communicating  with grievers starts with connecting with their hearts and not their heads.

Tracy Washington is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Independent Certified John Maxwell Trainer, Speaker & Coach  and can be reached at Tracy@TracyWashington.com or  (888)715-9977 .




Purpose, Pursuit, and Destiny

Rail Tracks Running in Parallel

Creative Commons License photo credit: Sadeq Hussain

Have you ever asked yourself “What on earth am I here for”?

Many of us go through life like a gerbil on an exercise wheel merely surviving day to day. With all the mundane tasks essential for daily living, our true authentic selves have become buried under a barrage of “activity”. Somewhere along the way we stopped dreaming, planning and believing that life has the possibility of offering more than what we’re currently experiencing. It’s time to take action and assess where we are, where we’re going and what will it take to get there . . . in other words, “What’s the plan”?

In order to make plans, we must know where to start. When planning a road trip, there’s always a starting point that leads to a final destination. In order for us to map out the course of our lives, we must first examine our starting point. These powerful questions will help to determine your starting point.

  • What has happened in my life up to this point?
  • What are some issues in my life that I would like to see resolved?
  • What or who has been the biggest influence in my life?
  • How have the choices I’ve made impacted where I am currently?

These thought-provoking questions will help ignite the engine to get us on the road to purpose and destiny.

To map out our destination, we must know our purpose or calling. What are we placed on earth to accomplish? Answering this question requires continual soul-searching. Each of us possesses different talents, skills and abilities and we often go through life not fully recognizing what those unique attributes are. The busyness of life can suffocate the awareness of how we are uniquely designed. This is why it is imperative that we do not compare or judge one another for our differences. To find my purpose, I had to stop comparing myself to other people and doing what other people thought I should do and reflect on my innermost being – my soul. I examined those activities that I found complete joy and satisfaction in, something I was passionate about. The things that motivate you and flow naturally through you are gifts from God. Finding my gifts and studying my uniqueness was the greatest discovery of my life because it opened the door and became the gateway to my purpose.

Once you have identified your desires, dream and goal and have a clear vision of where you are going – it’s time for action. It’s time to do something and move in the direction that resonates with your spirit. Moving requires change, and change can sometimes hurt. You have to be willing to make sacrifices to move to a higher level of living. Planning is essential to fulfilling and living out your purpose. You will not wake up one day and be at your destination, you have to plan how to get there. The path to your destiny is like taking a wonderful ride through this journey we call life. It will be full of ups and downs, disappointments and failures, but it will also involve joy and peace, excitement and passion. Your passion will be the fuel that keeps you motivated to continue on the path when the road gets rough.

Keep your vision and goals close to your heart and begin to exercise the gifts and talents that are inside you so the rest of the world has the opportunity to drink from your fountain of purpose.

Tracy Washington is an Independent Certified John Maxwell Trainer, Speaker & Coach who trains Workforce Development Professionals and the Career Services Industry on Transition, Communication and Leadership.  She can be reached at Tracy@TracyWashington.com or (888)715-9977

I’m Mad At The World – Is That Okay With You?

The deteriorating economy in the United States and around the world has left tens of thousands of people without jobs.  Many people aren’t sure how to describe what they are feeling or how to deal with those feelings.  Some describe the feeling of being just plain old ANGRY.  Anger often stems from feelings of anxiety and frustration.  So in the context of losing a job for some, it might be a relief and for others it could cause extreme anger.  Anger is a normal emotional reaction to a perceived or real threat to ourselves, our livelihood, or something or someone we love and care about.

Since we are emotional beings we don’t have to deny this part of our human existence.  It’s perfectly okay to be angry. It’s a natural human emotion.  In a culture that values work and seems to connect self-worth to what one does for a living, its easy to see how the threat to our livelihoods can cause a person to be angry.   When I lost my job, the memory of the lifestyle I used to live and no longer had made me extremely angry.  I was mad at the world.  Angry that I couldn’t control the situation and that produced fear and a great deal of anxiety because I was uncertain of “what’s next”.  I was angry because this wasn’t part of the plan I had for my life.  Angry because other people did not or could not understand what I was really feeling.  Their attempt to make me feel better by giving me intellectual facts only made me angrier and caused me to isolate.

How can we express anger over losing a job?  One way is to just “BE”.  Allow ourselves to process the emotion of anger and why we feel the way we feel.   We have a right to be angry – don’t we?  Anger is not always bad. In some instances anger can be a good thing because it will inspire us to take some corrective action.  Anger can be a powerful tool in propelling our lives forward.  Just staying in the moment can help to process what we’re feeling and seek solutions from within on how to proceed to the next step.

Suppressed anger is never a good thing because it can come out later in some sort of deviant or destructive behavior.     It is important to express what we’re feeling but not in a way that is threatening to ourselves or other people.  Professionals working with job seekers witness all types of emotional expressions. NEVER MINIMIZE WHAT A PERSON FEELS.   Since people are unique and react and respond in different ways its important to let people just “be” while they’re sitting across from your desk.  Unless the behavior is threatening just practicing a little empathetic listening can go a long way.  Allow people to be mad, sad, glad or scared without judgement and criticism and this release can provide a quick way to  to move from anger to action.


Tracy Washington is a Job Loss and Transition Strategist, Speaker, Author & Coach  and can be reached at Tracy@TracyWashington.com or  (888)715-9977 .


David comes to your office in response to an advertisement in the local newspaper for a resume-writing workshop.  You sit down with David and ask him about his job skills and how his job search is going and suddenly David explodes into a teary confession about his life and how horrible the transition has been for him after losing his job.  He explains how nothing is going right at home with his family and he’s worried because he is currently three months behind on his mortgage.  He express that he’s starting to give up hope because he can’t seem to focus on his job search.  David sobs uncontrollably.  You hand him a Kleenex and ask him to stop crying and he apologetically states how he’s usually not this emotional.

Workforce Development Professionals interacting with clients on a day to day basis and undoubtedly will run across people like David.  Many workforce professionals, career counselors and coaches are becoming a “trusted ear” to those who are involuntarily unemployed.   Because most of us have been taught to avoid or suppress hurtful, negative emotions we’re not sure how to deal with others when they are expressing their feelings after losing a job.

Here are a few strategies to help your clients when they are expressing hurtful emotions:

  1. JOB SEEKERS DO NOT NEED TO BE FIXED. – they are not broken.  Often times when people are expressing their emotions in our presence and start to cry “we” want them to stop because it makes us uncomfortable.  Sure, we empathize with them, but let’s face it, when someone cries it makes us want to cry too.  Allow them the space to cry and just be silent.  A good cry every now and then is a healthy way to process hurtful emotions.
  2. BE PRESENT.  Do not MULTI-TASK!  Empathetic listening requires listening from the heart and engaging your brain to process the message your client is conveying.  Do not interrupt.  If you’re a fixer, like me, you want to jump in with a solution to their problems.  You’d be surprised just how far being “present” and being an active listener can go with a person who is grieving over losing their job.
  3. NO JUDGEMENT, CRITICIZING OR ANALYZING. Many people are not transparent when they are seeking career services for fear of being analyzed, criticized or judged.  People can make unpleasant statements that don’t do much to help the cause.   The best advice is to meet people where they are and they may become more receptive to the services being offered.  Moving people along in the job-search process might just mean showing them that you actually care!


Tracy Washington is a Professional Job Loss & Transition Strategist who trains Workforce Development Professionals and the Career Services Industry on Transition, Communication and Leadership.  She can be reached at Tracy@TracyWashington.com or (888)715-9977.


3 Strategies to Conquering Shame & Embarrassment After Losing a Job

Do feelings of embarrassment and shame come up for you after you’ve lost your job?  This post will give you specific strategies to getting over and conquering that eerie feeling of embarrassment and shame when you face your family and those in your social circle with the reality that you’ve lost your job.

No matter whom you are and how strong you are, we are all human beings and have feelings of being inadequate and deficient in our abilities from time to time.  There are times in our lives when we feel like we’re just not good enough and nothing exposes those feelings of inadequacy in our innermost being like losing a job.  Losing a job poses a threat to our emotional, financial and social realities.   However, laid off workers need not feel ashamed or feel guilty about losing a job; specifically when the termination, however painful it might be, was beyond our control.

Webster’s Dictionary defines shame as being: “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, short-coming, or impropriety”.  In life there is what we call “legitimate shame” and “illegitimate shame”.  Legitimate shame is a feeling brought on by a conscious act that we later have feelings of guilt about.  Shame comes from doing something wrong that goes against our values. An example of legitimate shame might be a feeling of guilt because of something we have purposely done that has caused harm to others.  On the other hand, illegitimate shame is more about our fears or “perceived” fears about ourselves or how others may evaluate us.  Illegitimate shame can precipitate feelings of embarrassment that causes us to isolate ourselves from others.

And then there’s that feeling of total “embarrassment” which is often misplaced.  Embarrassment can be a painful emotion.   Embarrassment is feeling bad about our mistakes.  Unless there’s some intentional insubordination on the job that causes us to be terminated or downsized – there’s really no need to be embarrassed in light of the above definition.  Embarrassment has more to do with how we feel about ourselves rather than how others feel about us.

Here are three ways to conquering the shame and embarrassment of being involuntarily unemployed:

  • REALIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE – With the unemployment rate currently at 9.1% in the U.S. and even higher in some countries means that 1 out of every 11 people is unemployed.  So many people we encounter daily are in the same predicament so engage people in conversation instead of isolating and feeling like “nobody understands”.  Your experiences may very well help someone else who is experiencing similar circumstances. We might be pleasantly surprised just how much interacting with others and being transparent helps.  We don’t have to duck and hide when someone asks “So what is it that you do?”  
  • SOME THINGS ARE JUST OUT OF YOUR CONTROL – This is a painful reality for some of us “control freaks” who like to have everything go according to “our” plans.  We fight and wrestle with the reality that job loss is beyond our control despite our best efforts to perform well and add value to an organization.  Many of our internal struggles stem from not being in control.  I have found that losing control on the journey we were on is just a corrective alignment process to direct us to the journey that we are supposed to take – depending upon one’s perspective.  In this case, “lose control” and see what happens.
  • MAINTAIN SELF-ESTEEM & CONFIDENCE – Who we are is not what we do.  Often times our identity is tied up in what we do so we find it embarrassing as if we are somehow unworthy to walk the planet unless we’re being productive “doing” something on a job.  We feel like a failure.  This is FALSE.   There are talents; abilities and skills that we all have that aren’t just tied to our employment.  Many hidden talents are discovered when the day-to-day task of going to work every day ceases.  Concentrating on “being” rather than “doing” helps us be creative and have confidence in ourselves and our abilities.  Choose to believe that nothing is wrong but that everything is right.

 Visit www.TracyWashington.com and sign up for strategies & tips on overcoming the emotional impact of job loss.

Tracy Washington is a Job Loss and Transition Strategist, Speaker, Author & Coach and can be reached at Tracy@TracyWashington.com or (888)715-9977. 


Job Loss Grief: The Misunderstood Emotion

I’ve given so much of my life, energy and resources to this position.  This company has been my dream job for many years.  I’ve developed relationships with my co-workers.  I’ve watched them get married, get divorced, get promoted and have children.  I’ve seen changes in management and the many adjustments that everyone made to facilitate the new organizational changes.  We’ve come to this: Massive job lay-offs.  A whole division of my company – gone.  I sat there in the lobby of my building with my box of belongings in the seat next to me processing what had just transpired.  I was just let go, fired, laid off, down-sized.  Stunned.  Feelings of anxiety overwhelmed me as I gathered my box and headed for the parking garage.  My once thriving position and upward mobility in a company I’ve invested so much in is gone.  I feel like a hollow shell was once filled with hopes, dreams & expectations.  Now all I feel is uncertainty.

According to the Grief Recovery Handbook written by John W. James and Russell Friedman, the definition of grief is “the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior”.  Loss is something that we all experience in our lives at one time or another.  It’s unavoidable. The pain experienced by loss can be devastating leaving us with unanswered questions and lifelong emotional pain. You can’t describe to anyone exactly what you feel because they can’t understand how you feel.  They claim they “know how you feel”, but in actuality every relationship and experience is unique to that individual; therefore, no one really knows how you feel but you.  And sometimes we ourselves don’t know how we feel, as the overwhelming aspects of grief can make it difficult to sort out our own emotions.

Grief is an emotional response to loss.  It is not intellectual.  Since most of us were socialized to divert our feelings to our intellect with phrases like, “Don’t feel bad, she’s in a better place,” we tend to try to use that idea to deal with all of our emotions. The net result is that we try to heal out emotions with our heads, which is something like shopping for milk in the hardware store.  Logical reasoning does not lessen the pain of a broken heart.  The heart screams out to communicate what it feels but the brain informs us that if we tell the truth that we will be judged or criticized for expressing what we truly feel.  An internal war ensues and we try to reason away the pain, but that rarely ever works in the long run.

Grief is unique to each individual.  The impact of losing a job varies from person to person.  Some didn’t like their current positions and see it as an opportunity to explore other careers and others are paralyzed by losing a job and find it difficult to move forward.  Losing a job is one of life’s major losses.  In our American culture we place much emphasis in what we do rather than who we are.  Allowing a person the space and the place to “grieve” and adjust to the new reality is a process and doesn’t happen instantly.  When job seekers are allowed to express their true feelings in a non-threatening, non-judgmental atmosphere they’re more apt to take advantage of the many resources available to help them adjust to the new reality and move forward.  Grief is not about the head, it’s a matter of the heart.


Tracy Washington is a Job Loss and Transition Strategist, Speaker, Author & Coach and can be reached at Tracy@TracyWashington.com or (888)715-9977. 



PURPOSE & CALLING – these are buzzwords we hear often but what exactly do they mean?  What is our life “purpose” and how do we find it?  Many people who find themselves unemployed began an internal search and began to ask themselves questions as to what they are supposed to be doing in life, particularly when it comes to their careers.  They begin to ask questions such as, “Am I in the right position?” or “Should I be doing something else?” After a lengthy unemployment many job seekers find alternative ways to earn an income or seek other careers that are more “fitting” to to their personalities. There may be a cost associated with a temporary earnings decrease; however, the benefit of finding life’s “purpose” by seeking or creating opportunities unique to the job-seekers talents, skills & interest could have huge rewards that far outweigh the costs.

People Want To Be Heard, Not Judged


 Loss is a part of life.  Any time something begins, something else must end; however there is a process in the middle.  As someone once said, “When one door closes, another one opens but sometimes there’s hell in the hallway”.  The ‘hallway’ of losing a job brings about an emotional response.  That response is called grief.  Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss.  The Grief Recovery Institute defines grief as: the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or a change in a familiar pattern or behavior.  People don’t feel good when we lose stuff whether it be tangible or intangible, i.e., such as loss of trust, loss of a job, lifestyle changes, moving, etc. The last thing people want to hear is “everything will be alright”. Yes, this is more than likely true; however, its doesn’t do much in helping people feel better. Miraculously there is something that makes people feel better and that is being HEARD without feeling anxious about being analyzed or judged because they feel the way they feel.  Communicating with job seekers involves a certain skill set and that is empathetic listening – being able to understand things from the job seekers point of view and not your own. There are times when people don’t want you to fix their problems for them, they just have a desire to be heard.  That is all.