All posts by Diane

Igniting the Spark & Fanning the Flames: 3 Critical Steps to Inspiring Others

 

DianeBolden_FB_08.14.17When was the last time you were really inspired?

Can you recall what you were doing? What you were thinking about? How you felt? What was it that inspired you? And what did you end up doing as a result?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could replicate the feeling of inspiration and translate it into measurable results any time you wanted to? As a leader, your chief mission is to bring out the best in others and focus their unique talent, style, energy and passion into the creation and achievement of something that serves a greater good. The ability to inspire and motivate is critical. But what is it exactly that makes a leader inspiring – and more importantly how can leaders facilitate others to take inspired action?

STEP 1: Before you can be inspiring, you must be inspired.

Chances are the last time you became inspired, you were not feeling stress, anxiety, worry or overwhelm. And it probably didn’t happen because someone told you to do it. The greatest creations and most significant accomplishments of our time started with a single thought that most likely originated when the minds that conceived them were relatively quiet. It is not uncommon to hear inventors, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, leaders and others say that ideas such as these seemed to originate from a source greater than themselves – and that the most inspiring of these thoughts was in service to a greater good.

The voice of inspiration often starts as a small still whisper that competes for our attention among all the other things we think we need to be doing.   How will you quiet yourself for a few moments today and elevate your attention from problems to possibilities so you can hear what it is telling you?

STEP 2: Before you can truly bring out the best in others, you must start with yourself.

Every one of us has faults and weaknesses. But we also have unique combinations of talent, energy, style and passion that mingle together to form vast pools of possibility. You are capable of far more than you ever dreamed or realized is possible and so is everyone around you. These core qualities lie deep within us waiting to be tapped and harnessed.

True strength is not boastful or proud but rather quietly confident and unassuming. It is also incredibly engaging and uplifting. When you shift your focus from your doubts and fears to your strengths and abilities, you will see the way to rise. And in doing so, you will allow others to do the same. As you focus on people’s true potential and treat them as though they are capable of achieving it, they will prove you right – often surprising and delighting themselves in the process. The ability to do this is one of the marks of a true leader.

STEP 3:   Remember to block and tackle.

Getting people to focus on possibilities and believe in themselves is a huge part of exercising inspired leadership, but it won’t get you all the way there. To leverage people’s strengths and make the most of emerging opportunities, inspiration must at some point turn into ACTION. The trouble is, somewhere along the way our egos have a tendency to try to steal the show. Being fear based, the ego would have us occupy ourselves with doubt, skepticism and anxiety over the potential for failure and any corresponding loss of power, prestige or approval.

This is where MOTIVATION comes in. Motivation is about getting people to move. And sometimes you have to remove barriers that are in front of people before they can do that. Obstacles could be physical, organizational or mental. Good leaders are instrumental in detecting and removing them, whether they are in the form of skill deficiency, inadequate equipment or resources, or a lack of confidence.

You can soothe the clamors of the ego by mitigating risk, increasing the odds of success, and helping others to recognize what they have to gain as a result of exerting the effort necessary to succeed. With the parking brake removed, action and results can begin to accelerate.

In every organization, in every person, and in every moment, there lies possibility and untapped potential. What will you do to recognize it and apply it toward something remarkable?

If you are interested in additional strategies for inspiring and motivating yourself and others to higher levels of performance and impact – as well as greater fulfillment both on and off the job, check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group IntensiveRegistration for the fall program is now open. Enroll by 9/1 with the code EARLYBIRD2 to take advantage of the early bird discount!

When the Road You’re On Isn’t Getting You Where You Really Want to Go

 

TWITTER-2017-JULY-10Have you ever achieved a goal that wasn’t as fulfilling as you thought it would be?

Maybe it was a target you wanted to meet, a possession you longed to acquire, or a promotion you were hoping to receive.  You kept your eye on the ball and hunkered down to do whatever it took to get there.  When obstacles presented themselves, you busted through them and may have felt as though you were repeatedly banging your head against a wall.  “The reward for your exhaustion would be the sweet taste of victory in the end,” you may have told yourself.

I did.  And when I got to the top of the hill I was climbing I realized the mountain I was scaling was not mine, but someone else’s.

What if it didn’t have to be that hard?

It’s not that we want to avoid hard work, which really does have its rewards.  It’s about enjoying the journey a little more.  And if we didn’t insist on having to blaze the trail in front of us, we might find that off in the distance a lovely path is being revealed – if only we would stop long enough to pay attention.

When I take on new clients, they are often in the same state I have often found myself in. 

They have worked hard to get somewhere, but they know in their hearts there is something greater available to them.  Perhaps they haven’t been getting the results they wanted, have been experiencing a great deal of stress or even burnout, or are just ready for a change.  During times like these often the best thing we can do is not to speed up, but to slow down – way down.

If the path you’re running on isn’t getting you where you want to go, moving faster won’t do you any favors.

The best leaders are not those who have all the answers, but rather the best questions

  • What are the possibilities?
  • What are the opportunities?
  • How are we uniquely positioned to make the most of them?
  • In what ways can we leverage our strengths to rise up to our challenges?

 

In asking such questions, these leaders bring to the surface answers, insights and knowledge people hold inside that allow great things to happen.  Rather than imposing a vision on others, they allow it to develop collectively, with the knowledge that they can’t possibly see and accomplish everything singlehandedly.

Before these great leaders can do this for others, they must do it for themselves. 

So I challenge you (and myself as well) to focus on asking the important questions and to be still long enough to hear the answers.

In Native American cultures, young adults are sent on vision quests

These rituals involve sending the youth on a journey, packed with provisions that allow basic needs to be met.  Instructions are simply to wander around and find a place that calls to them.  Upon doing so, further direction is simply to sit and reflect.  The belief behind this is that we do not necessarily need to actively find our vision.  When we quiet ourselves and pay attention, our visions find us.

A vision quest doesn’t have to be all consuming.

In our complex society, few of us have the time to go wander around the desert and sit for indefinite periods of time.  So we need to make the time in our busy schedules to connect the dots.  This may be a few minutes here and there.  You may find yourself repeatedly daydreaming about something, or playfully entertaining an idea or possibility that will not allow itself to be dismissed.

These are critical pieces of information that can be vital to our journeys.

Like pieces of a puzzle, they eventually come together to reveal a bigger picture.  Pay attention to them, and do whatever is necessary to nurture and protect them. Capture these thoughts on paper or in your computer and add to them as new ideas continue to emerge.  Some of these nuggets will become more valuable to you than others – like gold in the miner’s pan, they will begin to shine amongst the grains of sand.

Notice also the synchronicities that occur all around you that help make your visions real. These may be chance encounters with people uniquely connected or qualified to help you, valuable information that effortlessly comes your way, and little serendipities that allow you to feel as though you are in the flow of something bigger than yourself.  Chances are, you will be.

Enjoy the ride!

If you are interested in additional strategies for helping you navigate a path aligned with who you truly are – one that leads to lasting freedom and fulfillment, I invite you to check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. The fall program will be kicking off in September and you can get on the waiting list now to receive priority access to the limited seats that will become available – and take advantage of an early bird discount.

3 Steps for Escaping the Hamster Wheel to Create Freedom & Flow

 

TWITTER-2017-JULY-6Do you find yourself running from one thing to the next with little time to really think about what you are doing and why?

If you answered yes, you are not alone.

Many high achieving professionals feel as though they have way more to do than they have time to do it. Their ambition, drive and passion have served them well, and gotten them to a nice place, but still they know they are capable of more. More visibility, more opportunity, more income, and dare I say – more freedom to enjoy their careers and their lives.

The daily grind has a way of keeping us tethered to the ground, feeling as though our best is just around the corner, if only we can get through what’s in front of us, which is often an accumulation of projects, events and other commitments that ends up growing far faster than it shrinks. Every once in a while, it becomes apparent that something’s got to give.

But who has time to slow down when there is so much more to get done?

The fantasy many of us have bought into is that if we just work longer and harder, we will get there. And despite our longing to find balance and the sweet spot that will finally allow us to relax and be more effective, we often act in ways that bring greater levels of anxiety and toil. As leaders, we also unwittingly create entire cultures of people who emulate our frenetic behavior in the name of getting ahead.

The hamster in the wheel doesn’t realize he isn’t getting anywhere.

And before he can, he must realize that he is, in fact, in a wheel. Our wheels are much more sophisticated and deceiving than those of the hamster. Because initially, our wheels do get us somewhere. It’s just that over time, they lose traction and become stuck in comfortable ruts. And we don’t realize when we’re stuck, because it doesn’t seem possible to be standing still when you are running like hell.

Are you ready to stop the madness and take things up a notch?

Can you conceive of finding a better way to do things? How badly do you want it? Bad enough to try something that goes against every compulsion you currently have to keep doing what you’ve been doing all along?

Consider the prerequisite for successful change.

Have you ever noticed that when you upgrade software, the program often needs to uninstall or extract something before it can successfully run? Gardeners know that new blossoms proliferate when the old flowers and branches have been pruned. Bargain shoppers know that stores sell older merchandise at a significant discount to get it off the shelves to make room for what’s coming in the new season.

How about you?

What tried and true ways of doing things have lost their leverage?

How willing are you to recognize that perhaps there is a better way of doing things than what you’ve done up to this point? All change begins with awareness that is coupled with desire. To move beyond your madness, try the following:

  • Pay attention to the times during the day that you feel the most anxious, stressed, or tense. Recognize the pattern of thought or behavior you are engaging in that may be causing this discomfort. This may be a prime area for you to make a shift.
  • Ask yourself some discerning questions such as, “What small, but powerful change could I make today that would allow me to be more effective and make the most of my opportunities?”
  • Notice what catches your attention in the coming days. The answers to your questions will reveal themselves to you, but you must open yourself up to them and be willing to listen.

Once you begin to notice that the patterns and triggers that create the highest degree of anxiety, stress and pressure – and the impact they are having in your life, they begin to lose their hold on you. When you open yourself to new ways of doing things, you move from a point of view to a higher viewing point – one that allows you to see solutions that may have previously evaded you. Allowing yourself to envision and believe in a new way of doing things will transform your frustration into fuel and help you summon the courage you need to overcome obstacles along the way.

If you are interested in specific strategies for breaking through old habits and patterns that no longer serve you so that you can create more freedom and flow in your work and your life, check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. The fall program will be kicking off in September and you can get on the waiting list now to receive priority access to the limited seats that will become available – and take advantage of an early bird discount.

Does Your Work Life Need Resuscitating?

 

Diane Bolden - Executive Leadership Coach in Phoenix, Arizona.I have always been amazed by the number of people who seem to think of work as something of a necessary evil — simply what must be done to earn a paycheck. For so many who toil through their workday, the primary goal is to make it to the weekend so they can really live. Going through the motions, working side by side with others whose hearts and minds they seldom truly connect with, they withhold the very parts of themselves that make them come alive.

For some work wasn’t always a grind.

Many began their careers ignited with passion and optimism, only to find that their flames began to flicker as they encountered obstacle after obstacle that kept them from achieving what they believed would be success. Succumbing to the unwritten rules of the organizations and other environments they found themselves in, which suggested they needed to act or think in a certain way to get ahead, they may have slowly sold out on their dreams and relegated themselves to quiet complacency.

Many of us were not brought up to expect that work would (or should) be fun or gratifying.

That’s why they call it work, we may have been told. As a result, we may have never really expected much from our careers or professional lives. And as the saying goes, life has a way of living up to our expectations. In just about every corporation, nonprofit or other organization, you will find people in jobs that do not ignite their talents and passions. Some remain dormant in those jobs because they fear that if they pursue their hearts’ desires, they won’t be able to put food on their tables. Many don’t realize that there might be a better alternative.

Most of us have learned how to turn ourselves on and off at will.

It’s something we often do to spare ourselves the pain of disappointment or frustration — or to maintain what we have come to believe is a professional demeanor. It is not uncommon to hear people say that they are very different at work than they are at home. Those golden parts of ourselves that we think we are protecting suffer when we do not let them breathe and interact in the very realms that provide us opportunities to learn more about who we are and what we are here to do in the world.

We miss the chance to become a part of something greater than ourselves.

And the organizations and communities we are a part of miss out on the unique contribution each of us has the potential to make. We can no longer afford to fragment ourselves in this way, denying the fulfillment of our secret dreams and downplaying the insights we have about what we can do to make life better — for ourselves, and everyone around us.

As more and more of us feel the pain that accompanies the denial of our spirits, we start to realize that the time has come for us to bring the totality of who we are to what we do, no matter our vocation, title or role.

We are beginning to awaken to our unique calls to service, creativity and innovation.

As we find ways to unleash our distinctive talents and passions at work, we will significantly increase the quality of our own lives, as well as the lives of everyone around us. Corporations that take steps to create environments that allow people to thrive will be met with rich rewards as ingenuity pours forth in ways that lead to increased profit and market share – as well as the creation of self-sustaining cultures that inspire people to sustain success by doing what they do best.

There are people among us who have the ability to snap us out of our trances.

They show us how to liberate ourselves from states of quiet desperation and help us bring more of who we truly are to everything that we do. They can do this for others because they have done it for themselves.

They are called leaders.

You may be one of them.  And if you are, the world needs you now more than ever.

If you are interested in answering the call to lead yourself and others, and learn approaches to help you connect with your own unique path in a way that reinvigorates your own life and that of everyone around you, I invite you to check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. The fall program will be kicking off in September and you can get on the waiting list now to receive priority access to the limited seats that will become available – and take advantage of an early bird discount.Diane Bolden - Executive Leadership Coach in Phoenix, Arizona.

How to Avoid the Three Hidden Pitfalls to Positive Thinking (and stay positive)

 

DianeBolden_FB_06.19.17Orison Marden Swett once said, “There are powers inside of you which, if you could discover and use, would make of you everything you ever dreamed or imagined you could become.”

James Allen published a beautiful book in 1901 called “As a Man Thinketh”, in which he wrote “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.”

Henry David Thoreau told us “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

And Napoleon Hill proclaimed, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

These quotes speak to our ability to create that which we most desire.

It is not some kind of magic or special power. And it is not something we must rely on others for. It is an innate gift that we gradually learn to utilize as we become more and more aligned with what is most true within us.

This gift is quite simply the strength of the feeling we generate when we identify with something so strongly that we take it to be real. With continual and unwavering belief, whatever we hold in our minds and our hearts in this way becomes our reality.

I began reading about the power of positive thinking and visualization as a teenager.

I was enthralled by stories of athletes who imagined themselves sinking those critical shots and performed at game time exactly as they rehearsed in their minds. I used positive affirmations about the person I was becoming and the wonderful things coming into my life. I created large vision boards for myself that featured pictures or symbols that represented things or experiences I longed for. I envisioned movies in my head in which I performed anything from sports to public speaking powerfully and passionately and with great success.

Some of these visions and dreams have come true over the years. And others have not.

After reflecting at length on what differentiated the dreams and visions that came to fruition from those that didn’t, I have come to the conclusion that there are three significant factors.

Lack of Alignment with a Higher Purpose

 One is quite simply that some of the things my mind (and ego) believed I needed to have were not in the best interests of my spirit, aligned with my true purpose, or in service to something greater than myself. Believe me, I have had many occasions to thank God for unanswered prayers that I originally believed would have been the best thing that could have happened.

Don’t push the river.

The energy you would otherwise expend trying to make something happen, or lamenting over something that fell through can be much better directed. Our willingness to let go is buffered by a strong faith that things are happening in a way that will serve our highest interest. In retrospect, we often see how things fell together in a way that helped us get where we are now – though at the time it just felt frustrating and disappointing. Cultivating this faith helps us to recognize and act on new and different opportunities that are much more aligned with our true purpose in life.

Becoming Overly Attached

The second factor often present when things didn’t play out the way I envisioned was my fervent attachment to needing something happen exactly the way (or at just the time) I thought it should – or attachment to anything in particular. While it is true that we need to be passionate about our visions and dreams, it is important to remain willing to let go of the details and trust that something bigger than ourselves will step in to collaborate with us.

This higher intelligence, to which I believe we are all innately connected, is capable of orchestrating things far more magnificently than we could ever attempt to do. It is important that we are willing, but when we step over the line and become too willful our thoughts and actions have a way of throwing a monkey wrench in things.

The urgency in our desire can have us acting out of desperation rather than trust.

As a result, instead of identifying with that which we most want, we embody the state of not having it and trying fervently to do anything to change that. Taking our current state to be more real than what we truly desire, the power of thought works perfectly to deliver what our minds have been fixated on – leaving us in a state of want, working madly to make everything happen the way we think it should.

Try practicing passionate detachment.

We must learn to give ourselves to our visions and dreams while allowing for divine timing, unforeseen incidents and the hand of providence, which often enables things to happen in ways that exceed our wildest expectations. I like to call this state passionate detachment.

 “Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Seeing it in Your Mind is Not Enough

You can dream great dreams, but if they lack feeling and passion, they fall as flat as the set of a five act play after the audience has left the final performance. We must go beyond simply watching the movies we create in our minds that have us sinking that shot, mesmerizing that audience, or jumping for joy at our victories. Rather than seeing ourselves up there on the screen of our minds, we must see from the eyes of the person in the movie.

Feeling is as important as seeing, because it leads to proper action.

We must experience in our minds and our bodies the feelings associated with that which we desire most – the elation of victory, the liberating release of having completed something we were unsure or afraid of, and the sweet satisfaction and joy that accompanies success.

Similarly, it is not enough to create a visual wish list or a series of affirmations or declarations about the things we would like to have, achieve or experience. We need to look upon these things as gifts that have already been given to us and feel the gratitude welling up in our hearts for having received them. Only then will we be compelled to truly ACT in ways that bring it about.

Practice grateful certainty.

The state of grateful certainty we need to give ourselves to is similar to the way you may feel after ordering something via the internet. After clicking the purchase button and entering your shipping address and credit card information, you can have reasonable certainty that what you ordered is on its way. With this assurance, you identify with the state of already having owned that which you just bought – even though you do not yet physically possess it. It is this same state of graceful anticipation, gratitude, and faith that those who seem to magically attract exactly what they want into their lives have learned to enter into time and time again.

Do you have some secret dream of becoming more than you currently are?

Of tapping into the vast field of potential that lies waiting for you to discover it? See if you can see through the eyes of someone who has already realized your dream, and enjoy each moment as though you are reliving the memory of its beautiful unfolding. Allow your vision to inform your action, and trust that as you give yourself fully to living your dream, you simply cannot fail.

This process is just one of the many techniques taught in The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive to help you get the results you want with less stress and greater fulfillment. Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

How to Get What You Really Want

 

DianeBolden_FB_06.06.17“What do you really want?”

I ask my clients and myself this question. We answer:

  • I want things to go my way.
  • I want to come out on top.
  • I more wins and fewer losses.
  • I want my problems to disappear.
  • I want to be profitable.
  • I want to be successful.
  • I want to be respected.

All understandable, relatable.

But the follow-up question is just as important.

What would that give you?”

This one stumps people. But the answer is usually something about getting peace of mind, satisfaction, happiness and a feeling that all is as it should be in the world.

What if you could have that now?

Sign you up, right?

It starts by recognizing that that the quality of your day – the feeling of getting what you want – is a direct reflection of your thoughts.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

You are about to go into a high-pressure meeting.

You know what you need to do to come out on top. Of course, you want to win, you want to be respected and your agenda dictates that the meeting must unfold in a certain way. Already your mind has created a definition of winning, of GETTING WHAT YOU WANT, that involves you playing your part and others in the meeting playing the part you have imagined for them.

If things don’t go exactly the way you envision, you are disappointed.

You may feel disrespected. If they do go your way, and someone else loses in the process because they must bow to your agenda, then the victory of that win is likely to fade quickly, leading you to seek another win.

What if you go into that same high-pressure meeting with a different mindset?

A mindset that views the meeting through the lens of all parties winning – even if the way to do that was not part of your original agenda? Go into the meeting seeking the best solution for everyone and watch what happens.

Up leveling your mindset allows you to see new possibilities and get better results.

Your mind will begin to entertain the thought that there could actually be a solution in which everyone wins. As a result, you will listen more intently. You will ask different questions. You will be more genuinely interested in what others have to say, because they are an important part of your solution. You will show respect others, and in so doing receive respect.

If you hold the intention of a meeting that everyone walks away from feeling better than when it started, you’ll go into that meeting with a quiet confidence, faith, trust and patience. You’ll take comfort in the wisdom of the group. You’ll start to find you are NOW getting what you want.

It sounds too easy.

Magical even. It’s no wonder since we’re conditioned to believe that we have to do something to get what we want, whether that’s money, respect or peace.

Let’s start again.

Think about whatever your mind if most occupied with and ask the question, What do I really want?

And then, what would that give me?

Take those questions to a higher level, one in which everyone involved benefits in some way.

Feel the ultimate end state as though it has already happened, even though you have no idea how it will happen. Can you rest in the certainty that things will happen in everyone’s best interest?

Let it flow.

Then as you go about your day or face this situation, let your actions flow from the state of mind you wish to achieve. Over time, you’ll realize that instead of having to see it to believe it, what you see will be a direct reflection of what you believe. Allow yourself to believe in the highest possible good for everyone, let go of how it will happen and watch miracles unfold in your life and those of everyone around you.

You won’t have to do anything to achieve that peace of mind, satisfaction and a feeling that all is as it should be because you already possess it.

This process is just one of the many techniques taught in The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive to help you get the results you want with less stress and greater fulfillment. Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

Supercharge Your Summer: Three Strategies for Vacationing in a Way That Replenishes You and Skyrockets Your Performance

 

DianeBolden_FB_05.16.17We all know we need vacations.

Time to rest and recuperate, enjoy our loved ones, and have some fun. But all too often, vacation creates stress for high performing executives who dread coming back to loads of email and other work that has piled up, and spend their time away preoccupied and worried about what’s happening at the office or getting sucked into email and phone calls.

It’s not uncommon to come back from vacation feeling like you need another vacation.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you approach your vacation with the same level of thoughtfulness and intention that you do with any project you undertake, you can create experiences that not only revitalize yourself and enable you to reach a new level of performance, but also increase the strength and effectiveness of your organization.

Here are three strategies for accomplishing this:

(1) Make the decision to completely disconnect.

We all know our electronic devices need to be recharged to work properly.

And it’s a no brainer that they charge more efficiently when we are not using them. However, we often fail to grasp that to replenish our energy, creativity, resilience, determination and focus – we too need to go offline.

It is often our underlying (and unexamined) assumptions that keep us from truly relaxing.

We are conditioned to believe that the harder we work, the more successful we will be, and that taking our eyes off the ball (even for a day, let alone a week or more) can lead to things spiraling out of control. As a result, many of us have a hard time letting go. We approach our vacations with one foot in and one foot back in the office, checking our phones and becoming preoccupied with work. In this state of mind it’s easy to get sucked back in to anything that appears to be less than optimal.

Few of us realize that this belief itself is the problem.

It is often the assumption that we cannot afford to let go that leads to most the stress, pressure and overwhelm we encounter when we return from our much-needed breaks. Like our cell phones, which are constantly searching for a signal and downloading messages, we too are expending energy even as we try to recharge it. In addition, this belief leads us to become far more susceptible to distractions that take us away from what we are doing in the moment. It also keeps us from doing the preparation necessary to ensure that others can handle things without us while we are away.

Once you realize this underlying belief is the culprit, you can substitute it with a new truth.

Chances are that voice in your head that compels you to check your phone will continue to speak. But when you begin to see the fallacy in that assumption as well as the pain it creates, it doesn’t have as much of a hold on you. You can begin to entertain the possibility that disconnecting will truly serve you (and your organization) and act in ways that make that true. And when you fully commit to a vacation that allows you to go offline, you are better able to prepare in ways that make that possible, which leads to the next strategy.

(2) Prepare people in your organization to handle things in your absence.

Most executives would benefit by delegating and empowering others more in general.

Often senior leaders find themselves unable to act strategically because they get bogged down in operational tasks that they really shouldn’t be involved in. So, creating a plan to prepare others to run things in your absence will yield dividends for you (and your organization) long after your vacation is over.

Take some time to identify what is most likely to hijack your relaxation, and plan accordingly.

Identify people in your organization whose skill, experience and passion are a good match for things you would normally handle yourself. Then take the steps necessary to bring them up to speed and put them in charge while you are away. Create and communicate guidelines that will help them know what to do in situations that would cause you the greatest stress, so they can make solid decisions without you. Taking these steps not only helps ensure consistency and effectiveness while you are away but also develops key players on your team that, given the right opportunities, can make a bigger impact.

When you return, follow up to help your people integrate what they have learned and build on it.

In addition to increasing their own capability, their fresh perspective may yield insights into how things can be handled more effectively in the future. Additionally, the confidence you place in your staff can go a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated. As a result, you’ll open doors to new levels of performance that benefit your entire organization.

(3) Set and communicate boundaries and expectations in advance.

Most of us are accustomed to setting up automated “out of office” messages in our mailboxes.

But we often fail to communicate and manage expectations in advance. As a result, people can feel caught off guard and demanding of your time while you are away. Or, you can feel inclined to respond to something that really isn’t all that urgent, out of fear of damaging a relationship or letting a ball drop.

Take the time to talk with others about your intention to completely disconnect while you are away.

Make it clear that you do not intend to check email or handle phone calls. Remind them of the guidelines you’ve set on what to do in your absence. And clarify your intention to use this time to replenish your reserves so that upon your return you can more effectively serve them.

When clients understand that you have taken steps to ensure they will be well cared for and know who in your organization to contact for what, they are much less inclined to interrupt you. If you discuss in advance what things can be done before and while you are gone and what is better delayed until your return, you will be able to leave with the peace of mind that everyone is on the same page.

Don’t underestimate the power of your example.

Leaders set the tone in organizations more by what they do than what they say. And if you interrupt your vacations to get involved in work, others are likely to feel compelled to follow suit. As a result, the energy of your team wanes, tempers flare, and performance begins to decline. People work harder than ever but don’t seem to get a lot done, or they burn out altogether.

When you apply these strategies, you’ll exercise true leadership – showing others how to truly revitalize themselves and their performance by modeling it yourself.

If you are interested in more strategies, approaches and tips for revitalizing yourself and your organization, check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

How to Endure a Stormy State of Mind

 

DianeBolden_FB_05.22.17When I would get hiccups as a kid, my father’s cure for getting rid of them was to have me wait for the next one. Surprisingly, more often than not, it actually worked. It’s strange to think that inviting in the very thing you want to avoid could actually usher it out. But over the years, I have realized that the approach works with more than just hiccups. I use a similar tactic often to help me shift from a negative state of mind to a more positive one.

Not too long ago, I had a tough morning.

My body didn’t want to leave my bed, and even after I managed to get up it felt heavy and encumbered. My mind was in a similar state. Everything I turned my attention on seemed to become darkened by a thick fog that followed me everywhere I went.

In contrast, it was a gorgeous day outside. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky, the birds were singing, and a cool breeze tickled the leaves of the trees. I decided to leave the house in hopes that it would lift my spirits a bit.

Though I would rather have sat staring zombie-like into a cup of coffee, I made myself go running.

It was harder than usual and the first few minutes of stiffness that usually give way to a state of flow felt like an eternity. “I run because I enjoy it,” I reminded myself. But really I just wanted the whole outing to be over.

I recalled boating trips my brother and I would go on with our grandparents when we were young. Often, we anchored the boat near a shore where long, wild reeds grew from the ground beneath the water. When we sank our toes deeply into the soft, squishy mud it would release stinky bubbles of putrid gas. The more we stirred our feet the more rank the odor became.

I laughed as I realized that this foul stench was the closest thing I could think of to compare the state of my mind to at that very moment.

And then I started to become amused.

I was able to distance myself from the state itself and simply observe it, in much the same way that I observe and muse over my children when they wake up grouchy – those precious, sweet little souls who can behave like little %#$&s at times. I can be amused with them because I know eventually it will pass. And in that moment I knew the same thing was true of my own condition.

So I just gave myself to it.

Instead of resisting, I let the negativity bubble up inside of me and just take everything over as my feet continued to hit the pavement. But as I did, there was a bigger, stronger part of me that was totally unaffected. It was the part of me that was observing the whole thing.

The more entertained I became, the less of a foothold those foul emotions and thoughts had. By the end of my run, I felt calmer and freer and was in a far more productive and constructive state of mind.

We will all have moments when the skies of our minds will darken.

Something that was no big deal yesterday will annoy the hell out of us, and even blue skies and babies fail to bring smiles to our faces. But these moments will eventually pass.

 What we need to remember is that these states of mind are just that: states.

They pass just like the weather. And sometimes the best thing we can do is simply allow ourselves to sit in the center of the storm and watch.

 Having weathered the storms in our minds, we can appreciate even more deeply the beauty of the clean, clear skies that follow – and use them as backdrops on which to create our own rainbows.

Interested in tools, techniques and methodologies for weathering your own storms? The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive will help you find your calm in the midst of chaos so you can bring out your very best (and lead others do the same). Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

The Gift of Chaos (and How to Leverage It)

 

Phoenix Executive Leadership Coach Diane Bolden.“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.”

~ Henry B. Adams

Like many of us, I grew up thinking that things happened in a linear way.

First this, then that. One building block upon another in a definite order. Cause and effect. But over the years, I’ve noticed that life isn’t always like that.

Often it seems life is a series of random events that don’t seem to make much sense.

But when you have a larger vision and experience that vision as though it has already happened, you can begin to see this apparent chaos in a whole different way. Often what we experience is a chain of seemingly disjointed events that are in reality very connected.

Think of watching a movie of a glass shattering, only in reverse motion.

Pieces fly together from all directions in a disjointed fashion and assemble into a perfect whole. Each piece is absolutely necessary, though, in and of itself, incomplete and inconceivably connected to a larger picture.

We will experience ups and downs and travel roads that deviate from what we anticipated.

Nevertheless, these seemingly divergent paths may in fact be prerequisite to experiencing the totality of our vision. At times the healing process entails pain, discomfort or other symptoms. While we may point to these as signs of illness, we could alternatively consider them evidence of our recovery.

Seasons will change, and so will we.

A phase of growth and expansion is often preceded by a period where things unexpectedly fall away. We can look at the void as a loss, or recognize it as the space necessary for new creations to take root and flourish.

We may not initially realize the significance or relevance of our chaotic experiences.

But in hindsight we often realize the importance of enduring specific challenges, setbacks, delays, or what felt like irrelevant nuisances. These obstacles give us a greater perspective on who we are, deeper appreciation for where we have been and where we are going, and compassion for others who have experiences similar to our own.

As we rise up to these little challenges, we find strength we didn’t know we had and realize we are far greater than we thought we were. And as leaders, we can help others appreciate and leverage their own chaos as well.

Appreciating the perfect order unfolding in our lives more of an art than a science.

Most of us never really take the time to recognize it. If you are interested in leveraging the seeming chaos in your own life and life’s work, I encourage you to check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

Not Seeing Results? Why You Might Be Closer Than You Think

 

Executive Leadership Coach Diane Bolden of Phoenix.Do you ever feel like—despite your best, most diligent, inspired effort, discipline, and patience—you don’t seem to be getting anywhere?

Maybe you have a vision that excites you – an idea of how something could be done differently, a creation you’d like to breathe life into, a way of improving your quality of life or that of others. You plan, you prepare, you do the work. Repeatedly. But despite all that effort and persistence, you have little if anything to show for it.

You might question yourself. Are you doing it right? Are you missing something?

You might get angry and try harder to control the outcome – double down your efforts, research extensively to figure out how to foolproof your plan, do whatever you can to MAKE it happen.

You may take your anger out on others. Why aren’t they cooperating? And how is it that everyone else seems to have it easier than you do?

You may question your vision. Is this really worth investing your time and energy in?

You might feel like quitting and moving onto something easier, more mainstream, with less risk or exposure. You gave it a good run. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

But the idea of throwing in the towel feels even worse than fighting what seems to be a losing battle.  

And try as you might, you just can’t shake the hold of that vision. It beckons. It haunts. It enchants – revisiting you in your quiet hours, whispering about what is possible.

What do you do?

Have you ever heard the story of the Chinese Bamboo tree?

It’s quite unusual. A farmer who plants these seeds will water, fertilize, and tend to them daily. After a year of care and nurturing, the ground looks the same way it did when the seeds were planted.

Another year will pass as the farmer continues his efforts, with no seeming growth at all. A third year of care and feeding will go by. NOTHING. And then another year of watering, fertilizing, and patiently waiting. Still nothing.

In the fifth year, small sprouts will appear. And in the six weeks that follow, the little shoot will grow up to ninety feet tall.

These seeds are like our most precious dreams and visions.

What we don’t realize about them is that while patience, faith, and perseverance may not produce tangible signs of progress for quite some time, they work wonders beneath the surface, laying the groundwork for what will follow.

To sustain the towering height these trees grow to, the root system must be deep and vast.

We too must have a strong inner foundation to ensure we have what we need before we can share it with others. So many of our efforts are a quest to prove to ourselves that we are worthy. We often mistakenly think that accolades, prestige, wealth, and all that comes with success will allow us to feel strong and fulfilled. But that approach is backwards.

The “trappings” of success fade over time and are as easily toppled as a tree with no root system.

If instead we start with a strong, grounded feeling of worthiness and appreciation for ourselves, we can extend our gifts to others knowing that we have all we need and that sharing it with others will only make us stronger – in the same way that bamboo continues to grow after it is harvested.

This strength is cultivated over time, and often happens during times that feel most barren.

We endure disappointments, we try something and fail, we learn about who we are and why we are here. This is all growth that happens beneath the surface. And it makes us strong and resilient enough to stand tall, reach high, and do the work we have been inspired to do out of joy rather than necessity.

The visions worth working for often don’t come to fruition right away.

Their timing is not something that can be controlled. When we try desperately to speed things up, we will often experience frustration, and feelings of desperation that may lead to anger and/or withdrawal. Just as we cannot peel rosebuds open or shorten the time it takes for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, we cannot rush the progress and transformation that happens with our visions and our very selves.

The “overnight success” we often hear about is often the result of years of dedication, commitment, perseverance and faith that like the growth of the Chinese bamboo tree took several years to come to fruition. As you pursue your grandest dreams and visions, many will tell you that your efforts are in vain, that you do not have what it takes, that you should quit while you are ahead.

And you may begin to question yourself as well. But as you weather these storms and continue to believe in and cultivate something that cannot yet be seen, you will ultimately be rewarded with seeing that which you believe. And it will enrich your life – and that of others in ways you may never have anticipated.

For more on bringing your grandest dreams and visions to fruition and laying the foundation necessary to sustain them, check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.