NEW YORK – “I’m on a mission to make people smarter,” Kalliope Barlis said at her talk Inspiring and Educating Women to Make Better Decisions on April 25 at Wells Fargo in Manhattan, hosted by the Hellenic Professional Women.
Bestselling author and top phobia-relief expert Barlis said struggling to make better decisions is not gendered but rather is something both men and women must overcome.
“Every decision is part of a strategy,” Barlis said. “Every strategy is part of a motivation.” Knowing what you want is one of the most important things.” In other words, understanding your own unique, personal motivation both in specific instances and in your broader desires is pivotal to making better decisions. When you’re facing a decision, she says you may want to ask yourself: which option will help you get to where you ultimately want to be?
“The brain works like a GPS. You cannot just put ‘somewhere’ into a GPS and expect to suddenly find yourself in the right place. You need to know where you want to end up.”She explained that when you start to think “on purpose with purpose” you will make decisions that are better for what you want in the long run. She cautioned that not only should you be planning to get somewhere specific, but that you should also ask yourself: “Where are you going after you get it?” Finding long-term success in life is about the “continuum.”
“What is it that you can start doing differently?” Barlis asked the audience of women. The attendees consisted of professions in a wide range of industries, from pharmaceuticals to acting and teaching, who were at various stages in their careers. All were there for different reasons, but what they had in common was the desire for self-improvement. During the Q&A at the end, the audience elaborated that they struggled with such issues as trusting their intuition, making choices when there are many options from which to choose, as well as a range of workplace issues, such as office cattiness and competition among women.
Walking the audience through a variety of exercises, Barlis brought transformation to the inner lives of the audience members. In one exercise designed to empower women to face individuals who seem larger than life, she asked the audience to close their eyes and when they envisioned someone they felt intimidated by to shrink that person down to the size of a quarter. Barlis then asked the audience to do a gut check and see how they felt now that the problematic person was shrunken down. Looking out at the audience, she said she saw smiles spreading across the faces of the women.
In another exercise, the audience members paired off and asked each other a series of questions related to the five senses as they thought first about a purchase they had made in the past that they felt negatively about and then about a purchase that they had made that they still feel was worthwhile. The resulting answers were supposed to be used as guidelines for how to determine feelings surrounding decision-making in the future so that one could be empowered to make better decisions.
“Women especially have a high level of intuition,” Barlis said, explaining that this has to do women having more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain. She encouraged the Hellenic Professional Women audience: “Listen to your intuition.” Learning to understand and trust your emotions is important when it comes to decision making, but it goes both ways: “How you think influences how you feel.”
“If you’re going to walk around weak and act like prey, you’re going to be prey,” Barlis warned the audience. The author and expert in neuro-linguistic programming told a story of how when she was starting out learning to play golf, because she dressed the part and acted confident, she was given access to the same places as the professionals—and it wasn’t long before she too became a pro-golfer. Find your inspirational models. As Barlis said, “You can just mirror what they’re doing.”
Even though she believes that people are ultimately optimists, she says that people’s poor decisions begin because they have limiting beliefs. “If you believe your own BS – Belief System – that’s when you get into trouble.” She advised the audience to “get out of your head” and begin paying attention to what’s going on in the world around them. She particularly called out New Yorkers, saying they take themselves too seriously. “Once you get people laughing at themselves, they’re open to change.”
Barlis encouraged the audience to make wise decisions not just for themselves but for the future generations: “The choice is really yours to make a decision to lead girls into women.” As for her own ambitions: “I’m trying to get to Greece to teach the people there.”