Category Archives: My Life

Expanding Your Universe

I recall a day, years ago, when I went to go pick up my youngest son from his friend’s house.  As we were leaving, I mindlessly threw the car into reverse, took a quick glance behind me to make sure no one was walking there, and stepped on the gas.  While the car lurched backward, I was jabbering away to my son about all the things we needed to get done that day when suddenly the car came to an abrupt stop, accompanied by the sound of crunching metal.

What I failed to take in with my cursory glance was the fact that another car was parked directly across the street from the driveway that I was backing out of.  And since it didn’t register, I neglected to turn the wheel at the angle that would have allowed me to avoid the collision we had just experienced.  I felt a flame of frustration mixed with anger flare up inside of me.  “Why did this have to happen?  Why couldn’t I have just slowed down long enough to realize there was a car behind me? And why the he*! would anyone park directly behind someone else’s driveway?”

I breathed a heavy sigh as I realized that all the things I was eager to hurry up and get done would now have to wait.  We parked the car and walked up the path to the neighbor’s house to let them know what happened.  The car, it turned out, belonged to a sixteen year old boy who was studying at his friend’s house.  I asked him for his information, gave him mine, and assured him that I would pay for the damages his car incurred because of my negligence.  Being sixteen, he insisted on calling his parents, who insisted on getting the police involved.

Realizing that none of the things I wanted to accomplish would now get done that day, I resigned myself to sitting and waiting.  My son’s friend’s parents laughed as they recounted their own story of having done the same thing I just did a few weeks earlier, complete with the same frustration and the same question of why someone would choose to park in such a precarious place.  I was completely engulfed with pity, anger and self absorption.

As the time continued to pass, I gradually moved outside my little world and realized that though I may have believed I was inconvenienced by this whole series of events, my tribulations were minute compared to what this poor boy and his family now had to endure because of my thoughtless and frenzied pace, not to mention the police who surely had more important things to tend to.

The kid, it turns out, had only recently gotten his license, and only recently been allowed the privilege of driving his parents’ car.  He was worried that in some way his actions would compromise their trust in him.  His mother, who most certainly had other ideas of how she wanted to use her time that day, had to forfeit everything to drive over and wait for the police to come fill out a report.  And the parents of my son’s friend had to put up with me hanging around in their driveway for who knew how long until closure was obtained with the whole ordeal.

A wave of humility and embarrassment came over me as I realized how selfish I had been with my thoughts and my time.  And once I started seeing the situation through the eyes of others, my own frustration became replaced with a desire to make the situation more endurable for everyone involved.

That simple shift in my frame of reference made all the difference in the quality of the day I was having, and I think (or at least hope) it prevented the quality of everyone else’s day from further deteriorating due to my previous attitude and the actions that it was resulting in.  Our conversations transitioned from being strained to somewhat enjoyable, and the more I empathized with the other people involved in the unfortunate incident, the more they empathized with me.  Before long, everyone’s agenda shifted to making the best of things – which we actually ended up doing.

When life’s little disturbances throw a monkey wrench in things, we cannot help but feel frustration.  And of course we tend to see things from our own frame of reference most of the time.  But we need to be wary of getting so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we neglect to realize the impact situations (especially those we directly contributed to) have on others.

Allowing others to become the center of our frame of reference allows us to see things we previously missed, and connect with them in ways that enrich everyone.  Our universes expand, and the gifts that comes out of situations like that are often greater than anyone could ever anticipate.  I am convinced that every situation, no matter how annoying it may seem at the time, brings with it a gift.  The question is – will we be able to get to the place where we can see it, and to what degree will we allow it to work its magic?

As a result of that little experience, I try (though I don’t always succeed) to dedicate myself to the habit of really looking around me to take in a bigger picture – not just when I’m driving, but everywhere I go and with everything I do.  I have learned that when I make myself the center of my own universe, I tend to overlook important details and even more important, people.  And at any point I can turn that all around – even when things don’t go the way I would have liked.   Sometimes I don’t remember that until after the fact, but thankfully life is rich with opportunities for practice.

In any conflict – whether self imposed or unexpectedly encountered, we have the choice of what frame of reference we can view things from.  And that decision will make all the difference in the world.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Transcending Tradition – Becoming You

a bright pink tulip standing out from a field of only white tulips transcending tradition

Several years ago, I started learning karate with my kids.  It began with the desire to do something fun with my children that would help us all to learn new things and grow together.  Like many people who begin martial arts, my thoughts were mostly around learning the physical application of a practice that would help me and my children defend ourselves and learn to do things we didn’t know how to do before.  What I didn’t realize back then was how much I would learn about myself and life in general.

Karate students are typically taught the basic techniques when they begin – strikes, kicks, blocks, etc.  In the beginning stage, the emphasis is on how to physically perform these techniques, rather than understanding the application – which comes later, once the performance of the technique is a bit more solid.  Gradually, we learned to perform choreographed sequences of basic techniques called katas and one steps.  The next level of difficulty we were introduced to, was to utilize these techniques in a non-choreographed way doing things like sparring or self-defense.

One day, we were asked to perform something called a Shuhari kata.  This was rather unnerving, because unlike the choreographed katas we had been learning, a Shuhari kata is purely the creation of the person doing it.  In other words, you begin the sequence standing in the middle of a floor with people expectantly watching you.  After a command is issued, your task is to create your own sequence and flow using basic techniques that you have learned up to this point.  It requires you to break free of tradition and anything that has been done before, to invent your own application and creative form – one that is completely unique to you.  Shuhari, we were told, would never be the same from one person to another – or even one application to another, as they are performed in the moment in response to each person’s imaginative and inspired impulses, which constantly change and evolve.

So there we were, called up one by one to perform these Shuhari katas, while being carefully observed by karate masters who had taught us everything we had learned, and fellow students.  My first Shuhari kata was rather stilted.  I was self-conscious, consumed by the thoughts in my head of wanting to get “right” something that I was told there was no right way to do.  I felt certain that I would do something completely inappropriate, something that would draw laughter or judgment.  I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible.

I still feel that way to some degree about doing a Shuhari kata.  But over time, I learned that there is something freeing and exhilarating that happens when you give yourself completely to something – when you forget about the people watching you and your own need to do it any certain way, and you give yourself license to invent and to go with whatever you are feeling in the moment.

Upon reflection, I realize how similar Shuhari is to life itself.  During the early parts of our lives we are taught how to survive in the world –what is appropriate and not, how to speak, act and otherwise behave in any given environment – at school, at work and within a variety of other social settings.   The “Shu” in Shuhari is roughly translated as learned from tradition, which is where we all begin from an early age.

At some point, we realize that independent thought is necessary. The rules we were taught as children don’t always apply in every situation.  We must use some discernment to determine what behavior will best meet the needs of both our environments and ourselves.  We begin to recognize the individual styles and preferences we all have and how in some cases they may go against the “norm.”  The “Ha” in Shuhari means to break free of traditional training.  When we take a stand against a status quo we believe is no longer serving the greatest good, we have reached this new stage of development.

I believe that at some point in our lives, we will find ourselves in a place where we are called to transcend all that we have been taught and conditioned to do and to learn to recognize and flow with our own unique gifts and creative inclinations.  The “Ri” in Shuhari represents that stage in martial arts, when the student is able to go beyond tradition because of their understanding and insight into the martial arts.  All of the greatest artists and masters – in any discipline – have at some point gone beyond emulating the techniques and styles of others to find and applied their own.

It will not always be easy.  Just as those who are asked to perform a Shuhari kata, we will be carefully observed by others who engage in and may have even taught us the traditional ways.  We will feel exposed, vulnerable and we may lose our nerve.  But the more we learn to give ourselves to the inner promptings of our own unique gifts, talent and intuitive insights and inclinations, the freer we will be, and the more beautiful the world around us will become – as a result of what we have given to it from the very core of our being.

“Insist on yourself; never imitate… Every great man is unique.”  

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Dream Big ~ Trust Big

a little boy with a rocket on his back moving forward to dream big

Are you dreaming big enough?  If so, you may often feel overwhelmed by the seeming magnitude of what lies before you.

As we entertain dreams, visions and goals that seem so large that they become daunting, we must not be intimidated by the seeming length or difficulty of the journey ahead of us.  I was reminded of this years ago on a skiing trip.  After an hour or so, the years that had passed since my last skiing excursion no longer seemed significant and my adventurous side led me to a very difficult black run, full of moguls and steep angles.  Once I embarked upon the run, I realized I was in way over my head.  At that moment the temperature dropped suddenly and a fog rolled in that was so thick that I could not see more than three feet ahead of me.  I began to panic.  I wanted more than ever to reach the bottom of the slope and became more fixated on having the run behind me than on the thrill of the experience itself.

As soon as my attention and focus went from the snow in front of me to the bottom of the steep slope, I lost control and came crashing to the ground, losing my skis and feeling the slap of the hard cold ground beneath me.  I managed to somehow get up and put my skis back on, but before long my focus would shift and the same thing would happen again.  It was only when I resigned myself to pay attention to what was right in front of me that my body knew how to navigate each mogul.  When I let go of having to know exactly how I would get down that mountain and trust that I could make it a few feet at a time, I had everything I needed to succeed.

I think that is how life is too.  When we feel dismayed at not having everything figured out right off the bat, we can ask ourselves what we can do right now that will lead us closer to our goals and trust that we will be given exactly what we need to continue our journeys right when we need it.  Sometimes conditions are not right for us to proceed full speed ahead, and circumstances take a turn that feel frustrating.  Often the skills we need are those that can only be developed through a series of challenges that require us to move out of our comfort zones.  We may see these events as setbacks and annoying diversions without realizing their perfect place in the larger orchestration of a course of events we are engaged in that has much greater implications than what we originally envisioned.

Perhaps the whispers of our heart and the calls to greatness that we feel within our souls are essential components of a larger, collective plan that we each play a vital part in.  As we rise up to play these parts fully and wholeheartedly, we can revel in the beauty of its mysterious unfolding.  In the process, we will discover ourselves to be greater than we thought we were and use each moment of our lives to create something extraordinary for ourselves and others.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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In the Shadow of a Daunting Task

 

chess pieces with the shadow of a crown that implicates overcoming challenges in the shadow of a daunting taskDo  you ever get to a place where you’ve just run out of energy and feel like you simply can’t do another thing?  For many, this seems to happen around 3pm or so – or right after lunch.  I used to think it was just a biological phenomenon – perhaps the effect of having to digest food, or needing to eat some.  I’ve tried chocolate, but it never quite works as well as I’d like it to – and it just leaves me wanting more.

One afternoon, I felt like I hit a wall.  And I did.  It was physical as well as mental.  I actually felt the wall go up as I contemplated a list I recently made of all that I hope to accomplish in the coming weeks and months and tried to figure out where (and how) to start.  The sensation originated in my stomach and rose slowly up my chest, kind of like heartburn.  Then it sunk heavily like a boulder thrown into a pond, covering my mind with muddy residue.  My impulse was to escape.  So I left my computer and took a short break, slumping into an overstuffed chair and closing my eyes for a minute.

As I sat there, I began to think about my state and see if I could identify its cause.  It was not an unfamiliar feeling.  I had experienced it another time after our dog tore into a bag of garbage containing remnants of the previous evening’s dinner and spread it all over the yard – and again right after I opened the box containing my new wireless printer and sat staring with an aching head at instructions that may as well have been in a different language.  And then I realized that it wasn’t the work ahead of me that was causing me the angst as much as what I was believing about it.

At bedtime, when my kids were young, they would get scared by shapes in their room that they couldn’t make out.  In the absence of information, they created their own stories about what they were seeing, which usually involved some kind of monster or other unwelcome guest.  But once the lights were flipped on and they realized the shadows were simply the product of a jacket thrown over the back of a chair or a teddy bear with a large hat, they settled back into their beds and slept peacefully.

I think we do this all the time with the projects and tasks we face on a regular basis – and sadly, also with our grandest dreams and visions.  In the light of day, we see them glimmer with promise and possibility.  But in the dark, our doubts and fears creep in and have a way of distorting things.  This is the point where the skeptics welcome the optimists to reality.  But it isn’t reality at all.  It is an illusion that has been created by a frightened mind.

The stories we tell ourselves in the dark are those of peril and potential failure.  In the absence of knowing exactly what it will take to accomplish the task, project or dream and whether we will be able to execute it, we begin to identify with our doubt, which amplifies the enormity that lies before us.  The shadow of a task magnified becomes a feat that feels insurmountable.  But flip on the lights and challenge the assumptions that make a creation feel heavy, and it becomes a collection of smaller pieces that can be gradually assembled over time.  As Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Whenever I feel that heaviness that comes with completing a task, I know that I have entered my dark room.  In the absence of light, I am prone to question my ability and my nerve, compare myself to others, and amplify the work it will take to finish that task (especially the bigger tasks!).  The darkness has a way of casting shadows on everything else that needs to get done as well. But in the light, I realize all I need to do is one step at a time – and then another step – and then another step.  And each seemingly insurmountable task can be broken down into a simpler component that I can get through with even just a little effort.  I can breathe through my fear and move into each experience, letting go of the outcome and enjoying the process itself.

When I stop to think about it, cleaning up the garbage the dog scattered around the yard wasn’t nearly so miserable as I thought it would be.  And setting up the printer wasn’t either.  The other, higher aspirations can be approached in a lighter, simpler manner as well.  With this in mind, I will keep on accomplishing my tasks… one step at a time.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Are You at a Crossroads?

looking at a tree and crossroads

Are you at a crossroads in your life or your career?

Do you feel like something amazing is ready to bust through but not sure exactly what it is, or how it will take form?  Does it scare you? Do you find that things you used to be really good at are no longer satisfying or even interesting?  Have you been daydreaming or even just longing for something different but not sure where to start?  It might feel disconcerting and even overwhelming.  Maybe you think you need to change jobs or even careers.

Or perhaps you just feel you need a change of scene – different projects, new challenges, new opportunities.  You might have already experienced some kind of significant change and are still reeling from it, not sure what to do next.

Is there a great idea brewing that you just haven’t had the time (or the courage) to explore?  Is something new and different beckoning?  Perhaps you’ve put it on the back burner and tried to dismiss recurring daydreams to go back to the tried and true, but it just doesn’t seem to work for you anymore.  In fact, it could be becoming downright miserable.  And though you continue to resist the feeling that there’s got to be more than this, you can’t help but wonder if it might be true.

If any of this resonates with you, you are on the verge of an exciting, energizing, transformation.  But it may or may not feel exciting and energizing.  Right now it could just be disconcerting and uncomfortable.  And you may not know exactly what to do about it.

What if you were not alone? 

Would it help to know that many people are feeling the same way?  Some of them have just quit their jobs because they were miserable.  Some have been laid off.  Others are at the pinnacles of their careers, by all appearances wildly successful but dying on the inside.   Some are at the helms of corporations or large organizations, wanting to take things in new, exciting directions but not sure where to go or how to get there.  Others are inside organizations, acutely aware of what is possible and what is not working, but not sure it is their place to volunteer their thoughts and ideas or fearful that doing so is just too risky.  Still more are entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, writers, and other creative, innovative, and resourceful people that are playing (or wrestling) with the idea of entering unchartered territory.

The good news is, you don’t have to go off the deep end.

Though change is knocking at your door (and may already have come through it), you don’t necessarily have to tear everything down and start over again.  You just need to learn to see things differently – your opportunities, your challenges, your very self.  And you need to learn to tap the reserves and the brilliance that is within you.  Everything you have done up to this point has prepared you for what you are about to do.  The world is waiting for it.

Because you are human, you will resist it.

It may overwhelm you because you can’t figure it out.  As hard as you try to create a solid plan for moving through it and making sense of it, you will most likely continue to be baffled.  Because it is not a matter for your head.  You need to trust in something bigger than that — the same way that great visionaries, inventors, scientists, writers, artists, musicians and leaders have throughout the history of time.  Your head and your ego will create illusions that will terrify you.  They will weigh you down and exhaust you.  Under their influence, you’ll talk yourself out of your greatest ideas, dreams and visions before you can even get your key in the ignition.

What has helped me (and is still helping me) is enlisting the support of other people who are in the same place.

People who are dreaming and searching and even suffering, people who are knee deep in their own fear and resistance and trudging through it, people who are REAL and not afraid to let others see that they don’t have all the answers but are STILL SHOWING UP, doing what they are called to do each day, and asking powerful questions that get them closer to finding their answers.  These people inspire me.  They support and challenge me.  And they give me the courage to keep at it.

Do you have someone in your life that helps you in that way? 

If you don’t, FIND someone.  It isn’t as hard as you think.  Start by being honest with yourself about where you are and what you want.  Challenge the fears and assumptions that keep you from sharing that side of yourself with people.  You may be surprised to find there might be someone right next to you who is feeling the same way you are and will welcome the opportunity to confide in you.

What I have discovered and rediscovered is that the moment I connect with someone in a similar place that I am in, I become infused with the very wisdom and answers I need myself. 

In the act of sharing it with others, I am able to benefit from it too.  Similarly, those I have connected with in the past have unlocked their own wisdom and found their answers as they endeavored to tell me things we both needed to hear.

Being at a crossroads means you are on the verge of an exciting, energizing transformation. Embrace the journey – all of these moments, good and bad are opportunities for growth.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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

hamster on wheel

 

Do 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.

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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How to Create Your Ideal Job

Diane Bolden Professional Executive Coach

 

“Whatever you do in this life, take time to sit quietly and let the world tell you what it needs from you. Take a moment to honestly understand what your gifts are – you all have them. The way you choose to live your life brings meaning to your life.” 

~ Ann Reed

I’m continually amazed by the number of people who stay in jobs they are miserable doing.

Many rationalize that they must make the best of it, but in refusing to consider the options that are often right in front of them, they may not even realize what the “best” is. When we allow ourselves to stagnate, ignoring the impulses and desires we may have to bust out of our self-created constraints, we also unintentionally block the energy that we could be freeing up in those who surround us, whether they be direct reports, peers, customers, family members, or others. We do not do the world any favors by playing small.

You possess an inborn talent that allows you to do something in a way that no one else can. 

When you find this talent and apply it to an area of opportunity or need within an organization, you can create a job for yourself that will reward you with immense satisfaction and fulfillment. You’ll find you can achieve extraordinary results with ease and accomplish things people previously thought were impossible. And you’ll serve a vital function for the organization or community of which you are a part, which will in turn give you a deep sense of meaning and purpose.

The key is to pay attention.

 Notice what you do that leads to extreme satisfaction and joy and seems to come naturally to you. It’s easy to downplay our strengths—to rationalize that they are no big deal or that everyone can do what you believe are silly little things as well as you can. The truth is that not only can everybody not do those things with the level of skill and finesse that you can, but also that not everybody would want to.

Creating your ideal job or opportunity is a lot like looking for the perfect candidate for a job.

Except in reverse. When companies look to hire someone, they do well to spend time identifying the specific qualifications the ideal candidate will possess. When creating the ideal opportunity, you are that ideal candidate spelling out the distinct responsibilities and kind of work that would be a perfect match for your talents.

The more specific and concrete the job description and ideal candidate description, the more likely a company will find their key player. And the more specific and concrete your picture of your ideal opportunity, the more likely it will come finding you. The clarity of your vision will compel you to act in ways that make you the ideal candidate and enable you to position yourself as a contender.

Even if all you can start doing right now is entertain the idea that perhaps there is something grander out there for you that is aligned with your talent, interests, and passion, you will begin to mobilize energy in ways you could not before.

The more you can internally make it real for yourself, the more it will outwardly come to be.

As you move toward unleashing your true talent and being open to the opportunities that begin to present themselves to you, you will see the way to lead others—inspiring them to bring out the best in themselves by showing them how it is done.

Interested in more strategies for getting clarity on your ideal work and taking steps to move toward it? Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow, or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available.

How to Survive (and Thrive) in Change and Chaos

How to Survive and Thrive in Change and Chaos

 

Many of us are experiencing a great deal of pressure, anxiety and change.

The holidays are upon us. The leadership of our country is transitioning. And many are in the midst of personal or professional change as well. Frustration and turmoil are common responses to this kind of uncertainty and disorientation, leading to exhaustion and hopelessness. But consider this as you think about things that may feel as though they are spinning out of control…

What if the only thing truly standing in your way of peace, productivity, and purpose – was your thinking?

One of the key attributes embodied by extraordinary leaders in all walks of life is encapsulated in the word “responsibility” – not just in a moral or ethical sense of being accountable for our actions, but also remembering that there is wisdom in recognizing that we have the ability to choose our response. That response we choose will have a resounding impact on ourselves and everyone around us.

Here are four tips to help you move gracefully through change and chaos:

(1) Identify what is within your power to influence.

The greatest change agents start by recognizing what they have to work with before identifying change that can be sustained. They don’t waste their time worrying about things that are truly out of their control, like changing the weather. Instead, they focus their attention and energy on those things that they can influence. The greatest leaders know that the most powerful and sustainable change must start from within themselves.

(2) Recognize your stories.

 “We are not troubled by things, but by the opinion we have of things.” – Epictetus

 The thing that fascinates me about a seemingly chaotic state of affairs is not so much what is happening, but the stories we are telling ourselves about what it means and the impact those stories are having on the way we are responding to it. When we react to things with fear, we end up amplifying what we are afraid of and add to the anxiety. Our fears drive us to act in ways that keep us from acting on our intuition and finding the answers that will truly serve us. Sometimes, we end up behaving in ways that make our fictional stories become real.

As an example, when you are feeling so overwhelmed that you question whether you’ll get all the important things done, you are likely to approach things in a way that draws them out – perhaps by procrastinating, making things more complicated than they need to be, or using more energy to resist and worry than it would take to actually get things done.

(3) Think of the worst-case scenario.

Our rational minds want answers and security. They need to figure everything out and almost automatically occupy themselves with trying to sort through data to arrive at conclusions. The problem is that our minds are plugging imaginary variables into the equation that end up further exacerbating the anxiety we are already experiencing. When they are done with one variable, they plug in another and the churning continues, leaving us with an uneasiness that keeps us on edge.

In the grip of this madness, sometimes the best thing you can do is indulge your mind with a variable that will allow it to do its thing. Go ahead and plug in the worst-case scenario. If the worst possible thing happened, what would you do? Allow yourself to sit with that question for awhile. Let the fear move through you and keep asking the question, what would I do that would allow everything to be OK? If you sit long enough with your question, you will arrive at some workable alternatives and reconnect with that part of yourself that is strong, resourceful and resilient.

(4) Now, come back to the present.

Armed with the knowledge that you will be OK even if the worst possible thing happens, you can come back into the present and recognize your fearful thoughts for what they are – fearful thoughts. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, which I pass along frequently, is don’t believe everything you think.

In the present moment, devoid of your stories about variables that are truly unknown, you are OK. And when new events begin to unfold, if you stay in the moment and access your inner wisdom, you will know exactly what you need to do – or not to do – to be OK then too. And as you go about your daily life in this way, your calm resolve will permeate your interactions with others and through your example, you will help others to rise to their challenges in ways that unearth the greatness in themselves as well.

Interested in additional strategies for navigating change, challenge, and uncertainty with effectiveness and grace? Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available.

 

PinocchioThe above article contains excerpts from my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Beavailable on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

 

The Art of Conscious Living and Why it is Essential to Leadership

Professional Guidance by Diane Bolden.

 

Every once in awhile I treat myself to a massage.

It is especially enjoyable when my muscles are sore. I make a special effort to be as aware of every little sensation as I can – so that nothing escapes my perception. I want to completely immerse myself in the experience and enjoy every second of it. And when I do this, I have often felt as though it might be possible to slow time down. While this is likely not possible, I do think being intensely present allows us to fill each second of our time with more awareness, more enjoyment and more of life’s sweetness than ever.

I contrast this to how I have felt at the end of a long day.

Faced with somewhat banal or unpleasant activities as being stuck in traffic, cleaning up after our dog or cat, or getting a cavity filled, I’ve found that I can disengage altogether and occupy my mind with other things. And when I do, things seem to have a way of speeding up. The whole experience becomes distant and a bit blurred. I can drive all the way home and not be able to recall a single landmark I passed along the way.

Knowing I can slow down or speed up time for myself like this is interesting to me.

But what is even more intriguing – and somewhat unsettling – is the thought of how much of my life is spent somewhere between these two extremes, on a kind of auto pilot. How many times when talking with a friend has my mind been somewhere else – reviewing my “to do” list, thinking of what I could cook for dinner, or even determining what I want to say next? How many times when my kids came proudly marching into the house to show me their latest artwork did I half-heartedly glanced up from what I was doing and offer feigned enthusiasm? What I missed in those moments is something I can never get back.

I used to think it was vital to capture special times on film.

I lugged around a camera, camcorder (or both) at the kids’ recitals, ball games, or during vacations and holiday dinners.  Then one day I realized I was so caught up in getting the perfect shot that I missed those precious moments altogether. And it’s never quite the same when you watch the video.

So I started resisting the urge to reach for those devices (or even bring them at all).

Instead, I made it a point to simply immerse myself in whatever was going on. And I believe the quality of my memories has improved significantly – even if I don’t have a lot of photos or videos to show for it.

What if we lived more often with the presence of not wanting to miss a thing?

How much stronger would we connect with each other? How much more of our special moments together would we actually experience and enjoy? How much more trust could we inspire and cultivate? How much more joy could we create?

How many more problems would we solve with solutions that addressed those little things that previously escaped our awareness and came back to bite us? How much more of our very selves could we bring to everything we do and everyone we are with? And how much better the world would be because of it!

Perhaps as we become more aware of the degree to which we are really showing up, we can begin to gauge how much of our lives we are truly living.  And then we can consciously create – and enjoy – lives worth living for.

Conscious living is akin to engagement, a topic about which much has been written over the last several years. It is the lifeblood of not only enjoying our work and bringing our very best to it, but also to creating thriving organizational cultures that lead people to come alive, attract raving customers and allow people and organizations to stand out in the marketplace. If you are interested in increasing your own level of engagement and learning how to help others do the same, stay tuned for my upcoming online course and group intensive: The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow.

This program is designed to help high achieving professionals bring out their very best performance in such a way that fills them up rather than depleting them – and allows them to make a bigger impact doing meaningful, inspiring work while leading others to do the same. Stay tuned for more information or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available. 

How to Unlock the Power of Gratitude

Diane Bolden What are you grateful for as an executive?

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
– Melodie Beattie

Someone once sent me the above quote in a card.

I remember being very moved when I read it. It speaks to our ability to interrupt what seems like a perpetual condition of restless yearning. From such an early age, we become conditioned to always look for more – to achieve more, to have more, to become more. With such an orientation, even the fruits of our labor are not fully embraced before we feel compelled to run off and do something else.

Gratitude is a state of being rather than doing.

It is a matter of what we focus on. All of our striving and yearning keeps us fixated on what we do not yet have, but desperately want. It leaves us in a state of lack, feeling as though we must compensate for something. Gratitude reverses that and allows us to soak up and truly experience the fullness of what is already ours. In gratitude, we can fully appreciate the richness of life around us – no matter what it looks like. From that state, we can more fully connect with those we love and appreciate and truly enjoy each moment as it unfolds.

Soon the day we call Thanksgiving will be upon us.

It brings with it the opportunity to celebrate – if only for a day – the richness and bounty that is ours. But this state of appreciation and celebration does not need to stop after the day is done.

For all that we want, there is much that we already have.

When we shift our minds into states of gratitude, we are likely to act in ways that bring more to be thankful for. As I love and appreciate the important people in my life, I become more lovable. As I give my time and attention to others, I realize there is a place within me from which I have much more to give. Even with the things I really want in life, I can begin to realize the small (and big ways) in which those things are already here – and be fully present to the manner in which they are already unfolding, trusting in life’s beautiful mystery.

No matter who you are or what your life is like, you have something to be grateful for.

It has been said that whatever your place your attention, energy, and focus on will expand. Perhaps this is the true art and power of gratitude – our ability to be in a place of joy and abundance and magnify it in such a way that it truly enhances the quality of our own lives, and everyone around us as well.

If you find yourself in an environment that is difficult to appreciate or feel that what you really want is a change of some sort, gratitude might be a difficult place to start to begin crafting your desired future. In my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow, I teach high achieving professionals strategies for leveraging their experiences to move closer to their ideal vision so they can make a bigger impact doing meaningful, inspiring work and enjoy their lives more – both on and off the job. Stay tuned for more information or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon become available.

Happy Thanksgiving!