All posts by Diane

Three Perilous Pitfalls You Can Avoid by Leveraging the Power of a Mastermind

 

Diane Bolden Executive CoachImagine holding handfuls of puzzle pieces that you are trying to assemble, without having access to the box that illustrates the finished picture. Around you are others who find themselves in the same predicament. You all hold pieces of each other’s puzzles. And you also have the ability to help each other tune into what the finished image looks like.

Though this may seem more like nothing more than an amusing simulation, it is quite fitting as a metaphor for the power of connecting with other minds.

It took me awhile to recognize and utilize this power myself. Many of us have been conditioned to believe we must figure everything out on our own, work independently, practice self-sufficiency. But over the years, I’ve become more and more convinced that working with others in groups allows us access to answers we would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

The other day I mentioned to a Fortune 100 client that I had just returned from a three-day mastermind event. His response, “What is a mastermind?”, reminded me of the fact that until I became an entrepreneur, I wasn’t familiar with the term (or the benefits of) masterminding either.

Napolean Hill is among those who made popular the concept of the mastermind. He defined it as “two or more people who work in perfect harmony for the attainment of a definite purpose.” Hill went on to say “It is the principle through which you may borrow and use the education, the experience, the influence and perhaps the capital of other people in carrying out your own plans in life. It is the principle through which you can accomplish within one year more than you could accomplish without it in a lifetime if you depended entirely upon your own efforts for success.”

Masterminds can take many forms.

  • They can be large and formal (like the one I attended a little over a week ago), or small and intimate (like engaging in a conversation with a coach, mentor, or trusted colleague).
  • They also can be created to solve a specific problem, or to provide people the opportunity to work together to collectively solve a variety of problems.

The benefits of a mastermind are worth exploring, and its power is often overlooked and unfortunately untapped. Below are three pitfalls many executives unwittingly fall into that engaging in some form of masterminding can help you to avoid.

(1) Getting so entrenched in problems that you cannot see the solutions.

The pace of business has many executives running from one thing to another in a hopelessly reactive state that often keeps them from pausing long enough to recognize what is really going on and what must be done to address it. In a rush, solutions are often devised to address symptoms without getting to the true root of the problem. People fall into a state of autopilot that has them acting operationally instead of strategically. As a result, solutions are short lived and run the risk of causing more problems than they solve.

This is the equivalent of trying madly to put puzzle pieces together that simply don’t fit.

The benefit of utilizing a mastermind to identify solutions is that it allows you to connect with people who can help you snap out of a frenzied, somewhat unconscious state to ask the right questions, consider the best approaches to truly understanding the underlying dynamics of a problem, and benefit from perspectives different than your own. This allows you to see what you previously missed, and provides the space necessary to drop into a richer understanding of what must be done.

In pausing long enough and looking deeply enough to ensure you have the right pieces, your puzzle comes together in a way that is functional and sustainable.

(2) Failing to recognize and work through the resistance that keeps you from taking necessary action.

Sometimes the best solutions evade us because we hold assumptions that keep us from believing they are possible, or that we have the ability to execute them. Our beliefs about what it will take to succeed can keep us from even entertaining the possibilities before us. In short, the solutions may be right in front of us, but we don’t see them because we are in a state of overwhelm, frustration or doubt that obstructs our view.

This is the equivalent to not being able to envision what the completed picture looks like and not recognizing that you hold in your hands the pieces necessary to assemble it.

When you mastermind with others, they approach the problem/opportunity without any of the emotion, drama, and limiting assumptions that come from being entrenched in it. As a result, they are able to see clearly and point things out for you that you cannot see on your own. They can ask you questions and offer observations that help you cut through the clutter that obscures your view and help you see the irrational nature of assumptions you may not be willing to challenge on your own.

With a clearer view, you are able to discern a better visualization of the picture your puzzle is designed to create and recognize that you have the very pieces you need. You also gain the support and courage necessary to lay them down and piece them together.

(3) Wasting time and experiencing unnecessary frustration working in isolation to figure things out.

Regardless of what problem or opportunity you are facing, there is someone, somewhere who has been through something similar, who knows something you may not. And yet many of us insist on doing things ourselves, reinventing the wheel, and failing to leverage the knowledge, experience and insight all around us. This can result in countless hours, weeks, months and even years of time spent doing something that could have been solved or created in a fraction of time, without the whopping pain that comes from repeatedly banging your head against a wall.

It is the equivalent of failing to recognize that others hold pieces of our puzzles that they would gladly offer up, if only we had the willingness to ask.

When you mastermind with others, you not only gain access to potential solutions, approaches and tools you didn’t previously have, you also benefit from learning lessons others gained through mistakes – without having to make those mistakes yourself. Additionally, you will benefit from honest, supportive feedback provided by people who will tell you what you need to hear (information others may not feel comfortable sharing) in a supportive way that allows you to course correct before any damage is done.

You gain access to other’s puzzle pieces instead of trying to fabricate your own – as well as information that helps you put those pieces together efficiently and effectively.

In summary, masterminding can allow you to see beyond constraints that keep you from rising to your most pressing challenges and promising opportunities, produce solutions to problems that previously eluded you, and save you countless hours, weeks and even years of wasted time and unnecessary frustration.

In addition to avoiding each of these pitfalls, Napoleon Hill spoke of another benefit of masterminding that is worth mentioning. He is often quoted saying “When two (or more) people get together, a third mind, the Master Mind, is created, becoming a separate force in the conversation.”

I believe this separate force is a higher mind – a source of universal intelligence, the stuff utilized by the greatest inventors, scientists, leaders, writers, artists, and geniuses of our time. Putting our heads together in this way allows us to go beyond the limited database of our brains to access this higher mind in a way that can potentially resolve even the most pressing of problems, for us as individuals, organizations, communities and societies.

Now that’s a puzzle worth assembling.

If you are interested in experiencing the power of a mastermind first hand, check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. Though the fall program has filled, you can sign up for the waiting list to be the first to get information on the next session, as well as first dibs on the limited seats that will become available.

 

How to Leverage the Power of Gratitude in Your Career

 

DianeBolden_FB_11.20.17The Thanksgiving season naturally lends itself to recognizing what we have to be grateful for. Health, family, friends, and prosperity are among the most commonly cited blessings. What comes most easily to mind are the warm, fuzzy areas of our lives that naturally lend themselves to feelings of appreciation.

But the power of gratitude reaches far beyond those things that bring immediate smiles to our faces. And leveraging this power requires that we move beyond the happy times to consider the tougher experiences we’ve had that we would often rather forget about. Because the most challenging times in our lives and our careers are often accompanied by some of the richest blessings.

  • That proposal that you worked day and night on but ended up going nowhere.
  • The difficult customer/coworker/boss/direct report that continually pushed all your buttons.
  • The presentation you made that didn’t have the impact you would have liked.
  • The restructuring in your division that pushed you to the edges of your comfort zone and required you to navigate through uncertainty that was as unfamiliar as it was unsettling.

These things that push us to our edges come bearing gifts. And we tend to move so quickly that we fail to pause long enough to unpack those blessings and truly integrate them. But when we do, we often realize in hindsight that these less than ideal circumstances allow us to grow, to become stronger, to more resilient, more compassionate, more insightful, more wise.

The circumstances themselves pass, but the gifts remain.

Cultivating this deeper level of gratitude allows us to contemplate the idea that perhaps life isn’t happening to us, but rather for us. These challenges that test our patience, push us to our edges, and appear to be nothing more than irritating obstacles are often the very things we need in order to become the best versions of ourselves.

It’s easier to see the perfect order of things in retrospect. Can you think of a challenge you faced in the recent (or not so recent) past that pushed you to your limits? Consider for a moment what you learned as a result of that experience. What did the experience itself require that you activate within yourself to successfully move through it? And how did it make you a better leader? A stronger performer? A wiser and more compassionate person?

The reason these insights come to us in hindsight is that our thinking settles. When we are not so frazzled and pressured by the need for an immediate response, or plagued by worried and doubt, the static that prevented us from seeing and appreciating the deeper purpose and significance subsides. And there is space for gratitude to emerge.

Gratitude, yes for all the things that are going well in our lives – our health, the precious people in our lives, our prosperity – but also gratitude for the experiences that allow us to see who we really are when our backs are to the wall, to step up and into our true potential, to realize ourselves to be much stronger and more capable than we thought we were.

What if you could leverage the power of hindsight in the present? What if you could learn to look beyond the tangle of thoughts that may have you in a knot as you approach a current or emerging challenge – with the knowing that this unsettling, less than optimal situation also comes bearing gifts and blessings?

What if instead of focusing on the uncertainty of the situation and the external circumstances you could turn your attention to the knowing that you have what it takes to rise up to this and any other challenge? All you have to do is look to your past for evidence that it is there.

If you take it a step further, you can become grateful for the situations and circumstances you previously wished would go away.   Because you know that along with the struggle, they provide you with gateways that invite you to discover and unearth who you really are. This approach allows you to face your challenges with curiosity, playfulness and grace – mindsets that catalyze insight, creativity, and the resilience you need to find your way and emerge victorious.

Now that’s something to be grateful for.

This approach is something that is fostered within The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow program, which kicked off in September. Though the fall session is full, you can click here to get on the waiting list to receive updates on the next offering. And if you are looking for a more immediate resource, check out my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader.

3 Tips for Stepping Bravely into Your Next Opportunity

 

DianeBolden_FB_11.14.17Do you ever feel like you are on the verge of something you’re not sure you are ready for?

Perhaps you’ve been given a chance to do something you’ve always wanted to do, or you recognize a need that you have the unique ability to meet – but it requires that you step out of your comfort zone in order to do it.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve explored the mindset you’ll need to become what you most admire, and discussed the importance of allowing your vision to guide you. As you do those things, you’ll inevitably be presented with opportunities to make your vision real by moving from thought to action. And sometimes those opportunities will unnerve you.

This week’s video will give you three vital insights to help you move through your resistance and rise to those occasions in ways that bring satisfaction, fulfillment and growth.

 

And if you want more on how to take the kind of action necessary to make your vision a reality, download my special report Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead) and stay tuned for more tools, techniques and tips to come.

3 Vital Steps for Personal and Professional Transformation

 

DianeBolden_FB_11.01.17Though the Halloween parties and trick or treaters have come and gone, as I wrote in my last post, you don’t need to leave the fun and intrigue of stepping into the version of yourself you most want to explore behind. Every day brings with it a fresh opportunity to transform in ways that allow you to create, achieve or experience a new way of living and leading – and become more of who you truly are.

But how do you get from here to there? Last week’s article was about how to overcome the mental barriers that can keep you from even entertaining the idea of dressing up to become a better you. This week we’ll explore what you can do to play in this new arena once you’ve made that critical decision to step into a whole new level of possibility.

(1) GET CLARITY ON WHAT YOU ARE MOVING TOWARD AND WHY

Creating a compelling vision can be daunting to some because it often leads people to think they need to know exactly what everything will look like and all (or many) of the steps they need to take to get there. But the beauty of having a vision is that you don’t need to have it all figured out. You just have to want it. And getting clarity on your vision is more a matter of tuning in than crafting something that doesn’t yet exist.

When you want to move toward something, whatever it is you desire already lives and breathes in your mind. While you may not be able to describe every nuance of what it will look or feel like, chances are there are aspects of it that are quite vivid in your imagination. The more time you spend and the more freedom you give yourself to play with that vision, the more it will flesh itself out.

Just as important as tuning into what the vision looks and feels like is strengthening your connection to WHY you want it. The more it speaks to your values and deepest desires, the more meaning your vision will have and the more it will fuel you with the energy necessary to bring it into reality. This leads us to the next step.

(2) LET YOUR VISION INFORM YOUR ACTIONS

Vision provides the guiding principle around which actions organize themselves. When you start from a powerful and compelling vision, the act of planning becomes much more organic and natural. You can start by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • What major milestones would I need to accomplish to make my vision a reality?
  • What steps would I need to take to achieve each of these milestones?
  • What actions or habits could I institute to enhance or speed my progress?
  • What would I need to learn that I don’t already know, and how could I gain that knowledge?
  • What, if anything, do I need to stop doing that could impede or derail my progress?

The answers to these questions may come like a downpour in a brainstorming session you have with yourself. They could also continue to drop in and reveal themselves slowly, over time. Your ability to receive and discern these answers will be greatly enhanced with the third vital step to personal and professional transformation.

(3) CREATE SPACE TO RECEIVE ONGOING INSIGHT

Often we are so busy moving from one thing to the next, and so preoccupied by thought that we fail to notice critical pieces of information, creative ideas and solutions that land softly in the corners of our minds. The noise in our heads has a way of drowning them out and the multitude of things in our line of sight obstructs our view.

There will never be a shortage of things competing for our attention. It is important for us to realize that just as we need not answer the phone every time it rings, we also do not need to allow our attention to be hijacked by everything that demands it. We must be intentional about what we allow to occupy our minds and consume our vital energy.

Creating space happens on both the physical and mental realms. Physical space is created when you block time on your calendar to work toward your vision and treat it with the same regard you would time with a client or other vital stakeholder. Mental space is created when you refuse to engage with thoughts that are bringing you down or clouding your optimism.

It is easy to believe that to make progress, you must quell your anxiety, overcome your resistance and turn negativity into positivity. But when your thinking is in a low state, no amount of additional thinking will help. It only adds to the problem and blocks your innate creativity, ingenuity and resilience. You’ll likely feel bad about feeling bad, and throw yourself into an unnecessary (and easily avoided) downward thought spiral.

As I addressed in a previous video, you don’t have to feel well to perform well. Thoughts come and go. When you resist the temptation to engage with thoughts that bring you down, they eventually pass in the same way water becomes clear when it settles. Sometimes the very act of doing things without thinking too much about them opens up new insights and leads you to do the very thing you worried you couldn’t – much more proficiently than you ever imagined.

Personal and professional transformation doesn’t need to be a heavy, serious endeavor. The most powerful visions are those that have us moving toward something we desire because we want it, but know that even if it didn’t come to pass, our innate well-being is not at stake.

There is nothing to fix and nothing to fear. So have some fun exploring the possibilities. The more you play at it, in much the same way you play at dressing up for Halloween, the less pressure you’ll put on yourself – and the more space you create for your transformation to occur.

For more on how to bring your grandest dreams and visions into reality, download my special report Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead) and stay tuned for more tools, techniques and tips to come.

3 Fundamental Truths to Help You Become What You Most Admire

 

TWITTER-2017-OCT-8When Halloween rolls around, it invites the question: if you could be anything for one evening, what would it be?

The tradition invokes a feeling of fantasy. Whether your answer is a super hero or a villain or something in between, the very act of asking the question and imagining a response reminds us that we have the ability, even if for a simple costume party, to explore aspects of ourselves that want to be expressed.

And the invitation to step into a new way of experiencing the world (or projecting what the world experiences of us) doesn’t have to stop when Halloween ends.

Have you ever secretly dreamed of becoming something different than what you are right now? Maybe you’d like to be more of a strategic player, become more visible, make a bigger impact, or lead more people. Perhaps you have visions of learning a new skill, working in a different industry, or serving a different customer base. Or maybe you’d simply like to step into a new way of living and leading – one that allows you to be more confident, calm, and engaging, or less stressed, pressured and anxious.

Regardless of the change you seek, you would not have the desire if you didn’t also have the capability to achieve it. As Napolean Hill once told us, “Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.” Moving from thought to reality requires that we embrace three simple, yet powerful truths:

  • You don’t have to be born with an innate talent to do something in order to learn it,
  • You don’t have to eliminate anxiety and doubt in order to perform well, and
  • You don’t have to sacrifice who you truly are in order to become who you want to be.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these.

You don’t have to be born with an innate talent in order to learn it.

On its face, this statement seems fairly obvious. After all, none of us knew how to walk or talk when we were babies. Many of the things you know how to do today were things you had no idea how to approach at some point in your past. While it is true that some of the things you learned over the course of your life came more easily to you than others, with practice and persistence you were able to increase your proficiency and improve your desired results.

You may think you don’t have the aptitude to learn or become certain things. But the problem may be more in what you are believing than anything. In her ground-breaking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck discusses two different approaches to learning a new skill. Some people operate from a “fixed mindset”, considering talent to be an inborn trait for some (but not others). Others operate with a “growth mindset” which allows for the possibility of learning something that doesn’t come naturally to them. Her research shows that those in the latter group consistently outperform those in the former.

The fundamental difference comes in how those mindsets impact your behavior. With a fixed mindset, you’ll dread failure because you believe it is a reflection of your innate abilities. However, with a growth mindset you’ll be more likely to see things not going well at first as an opportunity to learn and grow in ways that improve your performance. A fixed mindset will lead you to quit before you even start, while a growth mindset will impel you to continue to practice, learn and improve.

The words of Henry Ford come to mind, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

But that doesn’t mean it will come easily, which leads to the next fundamental truth we must embrace.

You don’t have to eliminate anxiety and doubt in order to perform well.

Chances are that whatever you aspire to become is something that is beyond your current zone of comfort. If it wasn’t, you’d already be doing it. Anytime you endeavor to make a change in your life, you will be met with resistance. Whether that resistance takes the form of anxiety or doubt or plain old yellow-bellied fear, no amount of careful learning and preparation will completely alleviate it.

Many of us (myself included) have spent years attempting to hone and refine our skill from a mental level before ever attempting to execute. The irony is the that most impactful and effective way to learn is often to simply do. In doing, we discover what works and what doesn’t and gain an intuitive feel for what we need to adapt to achieve the success we desire. Through trial and error our skill and effectiveness grow.

But the anxiety and the doubt and that little voice in your head that incessantly rattles on in ways that lead you to question your ability and your nerve will continue. If you can see those feelings as signs of progress that you are stepping up your game, you can perform in spite of them – and maybe even begin to appreciate them.

You can also learn to recognize that little nagging voice for what it is: a product of your thoughts and nothing more. As you stop giving it so much of your energy and attention, you may find that you can coexist with it in the same way you tolerate any other irritating but seemingly harmless disturbances, like a rattle in your car or an annoying commercial on the radio.

Sometimes that little voice will ask, “who do you think you are?” which leads us to the third fundamental truth we must embrace to move from desire to reality.

You don’t have to sacrifice who you truly are in order to become who you want to be.

The idea of dressing up implies that we are putting on a mask that eclipses our true identify. But often the things we desire to explore are actually innate parts of ourselves that are ready to emerge. We are drawn to people who exemplify the qualities we want to emulate. Sometimes we are even envious of them.

It is important to honor our own evolution by giving credence to our desire to grow and change and allowing those desires to guide us. They key to being authentic and true to ourselves is to listen to the beat of our own drummer rather than allowing the sheer force of our accumulated patterns, habits and the expectations of others determine our identity. Often the way we have behaved or expressed ourselves over the course of our lives is more a product of what we’ve always done than who we truly are.

So when the idea of trying something new, or exploring a different way of showing up in the world is appealing to you, indulge yourself and see what happens. Finding your own authentic expression is a matter of fine tuning. Try something and see how it feels. You can start by emulating what someone else has done. And then add your own twist. Let go of or tweak what doesn’t work and do more of what feels good to you.

This is what the most impactful of leaders have done throughout the course of history. They start by leading themselves – listening and indulging the desires of their hearts, believing in their ability to grow, evolve and achieve, and finding their own unique expression. And in so doing, they serve as leaders to the rest of us.

So don’t let the fantasy and fun of Halloween stop when October ends. Ask yourself what you’d most like to become and don’t be afraid to see where it takes you. In the words of George Eliot, “It is never too late to be what you could have been.”

If you are interested in more strategies for getting clarity on what you would most like to accomplish, create or become, as well as steps to help you close the gap between desire and reality, click here to download my special report, Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead).

How to Accomplish More by Thinking Less

How much of your time is spent thinking about what really needs to get done versus doing it? If you are like most people, the more anxiety or resistance you have to a given task, the more your thoughts will throw you for a loop.

Sometimes those thought loops suck up a whole heap of time that could be much better spent. In many cases the thoughts we have about what’s in front of us lead us to procrastinate and block us from the very insight, creativity and resolve we need to do what’s most important.

What if it was possible to turn that dynamic on its head? Watch the video below to find out how.

 

And if you’d like more tips and insights on how to turn your grandest visions and dreams into reality, click here to download my special report, Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead) and to receive additional tips and insights on an ongoing basis.

Why You Don’t Need to Have It All Figured Out

 

DianeBolden_TW_10.01.17You’re busy – scurrying from one thing to the next, tending to the most pressing needs of the day. The starting gun goes off in the morning and you are off and running. It might feel like a race that you just can’t win, despite the fact that you are moving faster than ever. And the closer you get to the finish line, the farther it seems to recede into the distance.

But every once in a while something breaks through that beckons to you.

Maybe it’s the thought that life and work could be better, easier, more satisfying, less stressful. Perhaps you’re ready to take things up a notch – play at a higher level, make a bigger impact, finally wade through the minutia and get to the juicy stuff that you’ve been pushing to the back burner until all the other urgent stuff gets done.

But you may not know exactly where or how to start.

You might feel like you don’t have the time to do anything different even if you did. And until you have what you think is an executable plan, you could be inclined to continue to just do what you’ve been doing – even though it isn’t really getting you where you really want to be.

If you feel that way, I encourage you to watch the below video.

Because the place to start something new – something that feeds you and unlocks your potential and opens new doors of possibility and purpose for you – is in your mind. And despite how busy you are or how little time you have, the technique I’ll share with you in the video is something that is not only doable, but world changing.

You can break that cycle of running yourself ragged to enjoy greater effectiveness and fulfillment. Watch the video below for an example of how it’s done. And then try it for yourself.

 

As a leader, you don’t need to have it all figured out. In fact, you don’t need to even need to set goals. Learn more about why the best leaders don’t set goals and what they do instead.

The Often Overlooked Danger of Being Too Results Oriented

 

DianeBolden_FB_09.11.17We hear the benefits of being results oriented all the time. It is important to have goals, to aim high, and to focus on outcomes. But as we have been told since we were kids, too much of a good thing can hurt you.

There are three critical areas that suffer if you are too results oriented:

(1) Your experience

(2) Your performance

(3) Your sustainability

Let’s start with your experience.

When my kids were young, they loved writing stories. As a family, we’d go on long road trips and by the time we reached our destination, they had woven delightful tales with colorful characters and loads of drama.

But at school, when they were given the assignment to write a story, they were not all that happy. Suddenly someone was making them do it and grading their performance. The writing was no longer an activity they had chosen for themselves. Their attention had shifted from doing the writing for the sheer joy of it to doing it for the benefit of a grade.

What does a child’s writing assignment have to do with your experience?

Most of us chose our professions as a matter of preference, because they were aligned with something we had interest in or a passion for. But when we become more fixated on the paycheck than on the work itself, the work can become a bit of a drudge.

Even smaller activities like projects can become laborious when you put more weight on achieving a desired outcome than on the process of doing the work itself.

But if you stop caring about results, how will you ever achieve anything?

The problem isn’t your desire to achieve results. The difficulty arises when you attach those results to your state of well being. Suddenly whatever you are doing becomes a means to an end. An end you feel you simply must achieve to avoid pain and achieve pleasure.

When the stakes become too high, the joy of doing the work itself gets sucked out of the process. And so do you. Your focus is no longer on immersing yourself into the work and enjoying each step, but rather on making sure you can achieve the outcome you believe your happiness depends on.

When you place your happiness on achieving some future state instead of enjoying where you are and what you are doing right now, you will never be truly happy. And your work will not only be less than fulfilling, the results of it will also be less than optimal.

This leads us to the second problem with being too results oriented.

The irony of being too focused on results is that you are less likely to get good results.

When you go from pouring your attention and energy into the process to simply achieving an outcome, whatever you are working on is missing one very key ingredient: YOU.

If all you care about is achieving the goal, your mind is on some future state. This means you yourself are not fully present and engaged. And when you are not fully present and engaged, the quality of care and love that you would otherwise pour into your work is simply not there.

The result is crappy products/services and poor performance.

You will not tap into the same level of creativity. You will not make the same connections. You will forget about whoever is the end user or beneficiary of the work you are doing when your focus is more on what you have to gain than anything else.

This is like trying to play tennis by focusing your gaze on where you want the ball to go instead of looking at the ball itself. You will likely miss the shot every time.

And when you don’t get the results you so desperately desire, you will begin to have trouble in the third area that suffers when you are too results oriented: sustainability.

What does sustainability have to do with performance and results?

Sustainability is simply your ability to stay with something long enough to experience a return on your investment of time, energy and effort.   It’s what allows you to stick with the plan you have outlined that will ultimately allow you to achieve your goals.

Sustainability is important because without it, you never gain momentum

Momentum is what allows you to go from starting something, to making progress, to achieving a desired result, to excelling at achieving a desired result. When you are too results oriented, you risk falling into the trap of judging your performance based on what you are able to achieve right out of the chute. And most people don’t perform very well when they first start something.

Expecting results without momentum is the curse of the perfectionist.

The perfectionist wants to begin everything at the same level of proficiency that a master would achieve. They compare their results to those attained by people who have spent years of their lives practicing. And they fail to recognize that people who are masterful began their crafts making mistakes, looking foolish, and getting less than desirable results.

So they quit. They never allow themselves that crucial period of trying something, getting it wrong, making small adjustments and trying again. And again. And again.

They reason they were never cut out for that kind of work. And they cheat themselves of the sweetness of achieving results they could have enjoyed if they would have just stuck with it.

But you don’t get rewarded for effort — only results, right?

It’s true that most companies don’t reward people a whole lot for the effort they put into something unless they reach their goals. But you will never achieve your goals if you do not apply sustained effort. The effort ends up rewarding you. And the reward is results that are not only high quality and long lasting, but also deeply gratifying.

Let’s summarize.

It is possible to be too results oriented. And when that happens, three primary areas will suffer

(1) Your experience. Being too results oriented sucks the joy out of your work and leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety. When you equate a desired outcome with your state of well being, the stakes become too high and you will fail to enjoy the journey that leads to your ultimate destination. Work becomes a grind and the quality of your life will suffer.

(2) Your performance. The irony of being too focused on results is that you are less likely to get good results. When your energy and attention goes to some future state, you will vacate yourself from the present. This negatively impacts your creativity and the special touch only you can bring to your work, resulting in crappy products/services and poor performance.

(3) Your sustainability. When you judge your success based on getting stellar results out of the chute, you will experience frustration and a feeling of inadequacy that may lead you to abandon your efforts altogether. Great results require great sustained effort and momentum. This can only be achieved with repeated practice, and the willingness to make mistakes, learn from them and try again and again.

Should you stop caring about results?

Of course not. It’s true that you need to aim high, get clear on the goals you want to achieve and envision what it will be like when you do. But then you need to shift your primary focus from achieving the result to pouring your heart and mind into the process. Your reward will be not only achieving your desired destination, but also enjoying every step along the way.

How to Transform Overwhelm and Frustration into Enthusiasm and Engagement

DianeBolden_FB_09.20.17Imagine finding yourself face down on the concrete being pummeled by some kind of hard object every thirty seconds or so.

You’re agitated and a little resentful – and you may feel like a bit of a victim.

And then suppose you lift your head and notice that the concrete you are lying on is green. Widening your view, you see that the objects being hurled at you are tennis balls. And they are coming from a machine that is firing them over a net. As you continue to look around, you notice there is a racket within arm’s reach.

And then you remember – ah yes, I signed up to learn how to play tennis.

This image came to me after I collapsed in overwhelm when what felt like a relentless barrage of requests for my time, emails that screamed to be answered, projects that needed to be advanced, tasks that demanded completion, and all manner of life’s little unforeseen chaotic events yammered for my attention.

How would I get it all done?

Well, I’ll tell you one thing. Cowering in fear does not help.

And neither does even the most justified of indignation and resentment.

I realized this when I lifted my head to take a good look at what was in front of me. And I also realized that all these challenges I was facing were related to things I chose to take on and/or really care deeply about, like:

Up leveling my business so that I can make a bigger impact doing what I truly love.

Being more involved and present with my three children – who inevitably are in constant need of something, often simultaneously, usually in three different places.

Honing my martial arts practice – and being more involved in the nonprofit organization that has given me the opportunity to learn it.

Becoming a better writer and speaker.

Being able to do more of what really matters to me in less time.

Getting better at anything is a decision that you make to be in the game.

It’s easy to forget that the game you’re playing is one that you chose for yourself when those balls are coming at you full speed, one after the other. But the simple shift of mind that comes from going to a helpless victim to someone who has willingly stepped onto the court is one that makes all the difference in the world.

Think of anything in life you feel like you “have to” or “should” do. More than likely with that frame of mind, it will feel heavy and cumbersome. But find something about that same activity that you want or care deeply about, and suddenly everything gets a little lighter.

We find reserves we didn’t think we had. We rise to the occasion. We notice the racket that lies within our grasp and begin to use it to hit some of those balls.

The more you play, the better you get.

I confess. I’ve let a few balls slip here and there. And I’ve hit some in directions that were anything but where I intended them to go. But the less I care about needing to get it perfect, the more I want to play the game.

And the more I play, the more of those balls I’m able to return.

And the more of those balls I’m able to return, the higher my confidence.

And the higher my confidence, the easier and more fun the game gets.

Rest assured, there will be days when it feels like we are being pummeled. But perhaps the reason those balls come at us harder and faster is because we are ready to advance to a whole new level – one that allows us see what we’re really made of. And maybe, just maybe – the only thing we really need to focus on is showing up and being willing to play.

Game on!

Why What Used to Work May Now Be Working Against You (and what to do instead)

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Imagine finding yourself in a dark room…It’s a room that was once lit, but has since dimmed.

And you have been doing everything you can to turn that light back on.  You’ve even gone so far as to build a contraption that allows you to generate electricity through your own manual effort, sort of like a giant hamster wheel.

The problem is you have to run continuously to produce the smallest splinter of light.  And you find yourself pushing harder and faster to get that light to grow so that more of the room is illuminated once again.

Off in the distance, there is another room that glows brightly and warmly beckons to you.

The radiance coming through the doorway of that space is pure and beautiful and you can almost feel its glow.

But despite the draw of that warmly lit room, you stay right where you are.  Instead of getting off the crazy hamster wheel that requires constant exertion and toil, you just keep running faster and faster.

And you are becoming exhausted.

This metaphor came to me in a moment of reflection.  I had noticed a theme that I’ve seen echoed among several of my executive coaching clients – and in my own life as well, from time to time.

You see, business and leadership is fluid, never static, which means we can’t rest on our laurels very long, because before we know it…

What used to work well no longer produces results. And that’s a problem.

What was once easy and energizing begins to feel cumbersome and draining.  And rather than moving us forward, in some cases it actually thwarts our progress.

But when it’s all we know, it can be difficult to let it go. 

We worked so hard to perfect those ways of being, of working, of relating.  And it paid dividends in the past.  We think to ourselves, “If I could just double down, and put a little more effort into it, a little more discipline, I could turn it all around,” right?

That’s what many of my clients thought.  Maybe you can relate…

For some, the work they did won them a promotion. 

Their intense operational focus and ability to dig in and get results merited them an increased scope and elevated role.  They became responsible for leading and empowering others to do the work they once focused the majority of their effort on.  They were being called to make a bigger, more strategic impact, but their fierce and intense focus on operational details was preventing them from making that leap.

For others, it was work that once excited them but was no longer stimulating.

They could do it in their sleep.  Sure, they were good at it, but it was becoming a boring, tedious grind.  It was harder to get out of bed in the morning. There was nothing to look forward to.  And in their quiet moments, they dreamt of doing something bigger, bolder and more impactful.

Some even had ideas and projects they longed to pursue or propose.  But they just couldn’t get themselves to break out of the ruts they were in, and/or doubted whether they really had what it took to do anything different.

And for many others, it was about working in a way that was simply not sustainable.

They had a tendency to take on more than most, prioritize everything equally and live in constant fear of letting people down.  So they continued running a race that was increasingly difficult to keep up with, let alone win.  The stress and pressure of their environment was high, but small in comparison to the anxiety they heaped upon themselves.

Regardless of which group you find yourself in, there is a better way not far off in the distance.

At some level you are probably aware that something has to give…   You dream of feeling energized again, of being unencumbered and inspired and engaged in meaningful and fulfilling work.  But you  can’t get to that new place without being willing to leave the old one.

You can choose to stay in the dark, dreary room because it’s comfortable. 

It may no longer be satisfying, or even pleasant, but it’s familiar.  Do you ever shy away from the light that is beckoning you to leave that space because you are afraid of what you’ll see or whether you’ll be able to handle it?

Sure, we all do that from time to time, even though…

The light reveals new possibilities for growth, significance and satisfaction.

It not only illuminates the challenges and opportunities, but also your strengths – including some you may not have realized you have.  And it ushers in new vitality, new energy and new clarity.  When you summon the courage to leave your dark, dull room and follow the light, you’ll be filled with vigor and joy, and you’ll find your enthusiasm renewed, your passion reignited, even if you don’t believe that yet.

The light of new possibilities brings both freedom and flow.  No more running like hell without getting anywhere.  No more banging your head against a wall only to end up with throbbing pain.  No more feelings of being trapped by your circumstances.  Once you summon the courage to follow the light into new possibilities and ways of working, you’ll experience a momentum that propels you forward in a sustainable way.

I know this because I have experienced it firsthand myself.

And over the last twenty plus years I have helped hundreds of executives just like you experience it too.  I can tell you that there is simply nothing like it.  And it has to be experienced to be believed.

That light that beckons to you is a call to step into something bigger and more satisfying.

It invites you to release old, outworn ways of working that no longer serve you and step into your personal and professional best – to unleash your greatness, to make a bigger impact and a bigger contribution.  And it brings with it not only new levels of performance and effectiveness, but also fulfillment that enhances your life both on and off the job.

I wrote this article for you, because my life’s work is about helping high achievers effect this transformation in their lives and their organizations.  Because when you answer this vital call to realize more of your true potential, magic happens.  You can quickly make a bigger impact doing meaningful work without sacrificing who you truly are.  Best of all you’ll enjoy your life more.  You become a shining example and a far more effective leader to others who will learn to make the same improvements in their own lives and careers.

The sad reality is, some of us stay in our dark rooms longer than others. 

Making that move requires resolve and determination. And it starts with a conscious decision and a commitment to yourself.  But the process can be unnerving.  It requires you to let go of something you know in order to move into something you don’t.  And though the rewards of making that move are profound, it isn’t always easy. Especially when you try to go it alone…

Having someone to guide and support you through the process can and almost always makes all the difference.

That’s why I created The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive to help high achieving executives just like you make that vital leap with professional high level support and guidance, so you can move through it very quickly, with courage and grace.

The program is a distillation of the most impactful approaches and techniques that have helped my clients over the last twenty plus years to successfully affect their own personal and professional transformations.  These are powerful methodologies I repeatedly utilize in my own life as well.

If anything you’ve read has resonated with you, I encourage you to give yourself the gift of registering in the program right now.

I’ll be personally guiding an intimate group of eight executives through this process over the next twelve weeks utilizing a powerful blend of online training (that you’ll have lifetime access to), small group mastermind meetings and one-on-one coaching support.

This is the final notice, and registration for the program closes on Friday so that we can begin our work together next week.

Sure, you could probably do this on your own – through trial and error… in stops and starts battling frustration and confusion each step of the way…

OR

You can  make this transformation so much more easily and quickly by joining me in this program – to get the support, guidance and coaching that helps you build momentum and sustain your progress.

There are five essential phases in this process of transformation that we’ll move through together.

  • VISION: The first phase involves having a vision of what is possible and what your work and your life will be like when you achieve it.  The Personal Power Grid™ and associated exercises we’ll cover in the beginning of the program will help you gain clarity and see new possibilities.
  • AWARENESS: The second phase entails becoming aware of your current state and the impact it is having in your life.  You’ll also begin to recognize what is and isn’t working – which thoughts and behaviors are aligned with your vision and which are not.  This is a tricky step because much of it occurs at an unconscious level.
  • INSIGHT: As your awareness grows, you’ll gain vital insight that will help you strengthen your vision and inform your actions.  This program is designed to help you cultivate your OWN insight in ways you were not able to do before, so that you can find answers that are truly fitting in your own life.
  • ACTION: Once you have insight about what you need to do more and less of, you can begin to experiment with action, utilizing tools and methodologies shared in the program.  The activities and reflective exercises provided will help you turn information into transformation.  The process is iterative, as every action you take allows you to gain additional insight and awareness.
  • ANCHORING: To ensure you don’t get sucked back into old habits and patterns, we’ll review the five pitfalls you’ll be most likely to fall into as well as strategies for prevention and recovery.  We’ll also discuss regular practices you can institute to leverage your progress and keep you on your path to freedom and flow.

What differentiates this program from all the others out there is that it isn’t about blindly following some recipe for success that attempts to make you someone you are not.

The program is designed to help you move more deeply into who you truly are, so that you can connect with your own wisdom and allow it to guide you in ways that are authentic and natural to you, and lead you to your own personal uniqueness and strengths.

You’ll learn to leverage your experiences in ways that bring clarity and focus into your life, and experience lightness as you begin to let go of things you’ve been making yourself do all these years that have weighed you down and created unnecessary pressure and anxiety.  All this while enjoying unprecedented levels of performance and energy that is sustainable – because it comes from the inside out.

I hope you’ll take me up on my invitation to join me now and answer your own personal and professional call to greatness.  Step out of that dimly lit room and into the light of possibility, expansion and growth.

The FINAL SEAT has your name on it, so claim it right now, before someone else does.

If you’ve read this far, you know it’s time to act.

Diane

P.S. Does your organization sponsor professional development?  To assist you in getting approval to use corporate funds for your registration in the program, download the business case for participating in the program.