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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. Registration for the fall program is now open. Enroll by 9/1 with the code EARLYBIRD2 to take advantage of the early bird discount!

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.

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.

Overcoming perfection/embracing imperfection

The desire to be perfect can keep you from trying new things. Work hard to move beyond needing to constantly embody perfection.

Embracing imperfection allows you to give yourself permission to be messy in some cases. Focus on learning rather than embarrassment.

Watch this video on the benefits of embracing your imperfections and helping others in lieu of just trying to save face . 

If you would like to learn more about building confidence, being authentic, and moving beyond old patterns that keep you from fully enjoying your life, check out my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader, available at or



Navigating Waves


Are you looking at taking on a new endeavor? Embrace your imperfections!

Embracing imperfection allows you to give yourself permission to be messy in some cases. Focus on learning rather than embarrassment.

Watch this video on the benefit of embracing your imperfections. 

If you would like to learn more about building confidence, being authentic, and moving beyond old patterns that keep you from fully enjoying your life, check out my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader, available at or



Be the Light in the Darkness

Sometimes despite our best efforts, things go awry.  

Be the source that raises the level of energy of those around you. Utilize Desire, focus and courage to help yourself and others. 

Watch this video for tips on becoming the light in darkness for those around you.

If you would like to learn more about building confidence, being authentic, and moving beyond old patterns that keep you from fully enjoying your life, check out my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader, available at or



Are you a REAL Leader? What Pinocchio can teach you about becoming one.

ID-10031579Often when I tell people that I wrote a leadership book called The Pinocchio Principle, they assume it must have something to do with ethics. It’s understandable, since the first thing most of us think of when we hear “Pinocchio” is a puppet whose nose grew when he lied. Pinocchio could easily be used as a metaphor for people who lie through their teeth while their proverbial noses grow. I can see why some might think it is a commentary on the importance of honesty in leadership. And while being truthful to oneself and others is a vital part of being a “real” leader, the reason I picked Pinocchio as a metaphor goes much deeper than his nose.

Pinocchio is the story of a puppet who longs to become REAL. 
Like Pinocchio, at our core we too have a burning desire to become real, to bring into creation the greatness that resides somewhere within us. We are born with these impulses — to give form to our distinctive blends of talent, energy, passion and style. We come into the world equipped with far more than we are immediately able to utilize or even comprehend. And though these rich parts of ourselves are always there, they have a way of becoming latent over time.

There are people among us who have found ways to tap that well.
They draw forth bits of the magic we are all capable of. These are the people we love to watch and be around — who do what they do so well that it is an art. As they tap their inner reserves and unleash their own greatness, they inspire each of us to do the same. In this way, they are true leaders.

In Walt Disney’s rendition of Pinocchio, the puppet encounters a blue fairy. 
She tells him, “When you prove yourself to be brave, truthful, and unselfish, Pinocchio, then you will become a real boy.” One could imagine what Pinocchio might have been thinking upon hearing these words. What are these things this fairy speaks of? How do I get them? What must I do? How long will it take? Where do I start? With the promise of a dream fulfilled, he endeavors to do whatever is necessary. And the odyssey begins. The twists and turns it takes are trials we can all relate to, and challenges that I believe are a part of our human experience.

The qualities that the Blue Fairy encourages Pinocchio to demonstrate are not things he must acquire
They are attributes he already possesses. But in order to activate them, he must endure a series of events that allow him to realize these qualities are there and to exercise them accordingly. In order to return to himself — his true self — Pinocchio must endure a journey of trials and tribulations that first lure him away from himself. And the same kind of drama seems to unfold in one way or another for each of us.

Every one of us has within us an animating genius.
This genius yearns to take different forms depending on who we are. Real leaders could be defined as those whose animating genius longs to create something for the greatest good, which is ultimately accomplished for, with and through others. It has a keen ability to look around, see possibilities and utilize resources in a way that brings something into existence that benefits others, whether that is a family, a community, a non-profit organization, a corporation, or the world at large. To accomplish this, leaders have the distinct charge of working with others in a way that brings out their best — that allows those we can impact to find the animating genius within them and apply it in service of accomplishing a common goal.

Before leaders can bring out animating genius in others, they must start with themselves.
Many of us associate the primary meaning of “to lead” as directing something on a given course, or being in charge, and this can be one of the functions of leadership. But the essence of leadership is much more than this. The Merriam Webster Dictionary has the following entry as the first definition listed for the word “lead”: “a: to guide on a way especially by going in advance.”

If one of the essential functions of a leader is to bring out the best in others, this definition would suggest doing so requires that leaders first bring out the best in themselves. This, in and of itself, is the very same odyssey our friend Pinocchio finds himself on: to discover and liberate within himself what is real — divinely inspired genius — and to courageously apply it in a way that is truthful and unselfish.

I wrote The Pinocchio Principle to serve as a roadmap for bringing out the best in yourself and others. My desire is to help people bring to fruition their greatest dreams and visions and better navigate through the perils and possibilities along the way. The book was written to help you:

  • Better differentiate what is true within yourself from the conditioning that would have you acting in ways that are inauthentic and self-defeating
  • Gain clarity on your unique call to leadership and leverage your experiences to prepare for something bigger
  • Explore navigational tools that will help you determine the extent to which you are on or off course and the direction you need to take next on your journey to becoming a real leader
  • Recognize and prevent assumptions and beliefs (your strings) that keep you from your greatest work so that you can utilize ego in service to Spirit
  • Recognize and steer clear of the elusive promises (Pleasure Island) that divert you from your truest fulfillment
  • Face your greatest fears (the belly of the whale) in a transformational way that will reunite you with your own determination, courage and heroism
  • Rediscover the power that lies within us all (the fairy’s wand) to create and live our dreams
  • Find ways to return to the quiet places within yourself that nurture and inform your greatest visions

The ultimate odyssey is always that of self-discovery. Every challenge, every opportunity gives us a chance to learn more about who we really are and to utilize our inherent gifts in service to something greater than ourselves. When we give ourselves completely to the journey and find meaning in each step along the way, we will truly live. And through our example and the unique contributions we all have to make in the world, we will truly lead.

Image courtesy of africa at

The Passion-Profit Connection: Why passion in the workplace is money in the bank

Have you ever noticed that some businesses (and people) make you feel good simply by virtue of coming into contact with them?

Well, I have. There’s a little coffee shop around the corner that I adore. The owner is a guy named Pat. He remeart-heart-caffeine-coffeembers my name, and looks me (and everyone I am with) in the eye when we come through the door. He is always happy to see us. The pictures on the walls have been carefully selected to create an ambiance that is both relaxing and upbeat. The lattes are created by someone who treats his job as his art and presents his creations with pride. The food is delectable. And we inevitably leave happier than we were when we came in.

My all time favorite sandwich shop is run by a married couple who stop to talk to us when we are there. Every once in a while, one of the owners will get a sly grin and give us drinks at no charge. “Today is Diane day,” he will say, slyly grinning as he hands me my cup. They hire people who make us feel special too. They ask about our kids. They crack jokes that make us giggle. We go there every weekend, often because there is no place else we’d rather have lunch. (The sandwiches are killer too.) And there is usually a line that goes all the way out the door, who come for the same reasons.

Should I stay or should I go?

When I walk into some stores and even offices, I feel good as soon as I step into the building. In others, I can’t wait to leave. It is not necessarily a matter of the displays, the furniture, or even the merchandise as it is the energy that is created by the people who are involved in some way with the experience people have while they are there. They infuse passion into their work. They make it a point to truly connect with people. And they bring who they really are to what they do.

We are discerning consumers.

People are beginning to recognize that there is a difference when products and services are derived from passionate people who care deeply about what they do and the impact it makes. Those who are going through the motions to make a buck will find that their customer bases are dwindling as we continue to realize that we can have better experiences somewhere else.

Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm.

When products and services make people feel good, it is often because the people involved in creating and administering them feel good when they do their work. Their work has become more than a means to an end. It is an experience that they have learned to show up and be present for. And they have found a way to make it meaningful not only for themselves, but for every person they come into contact with.

They have taken the notion that work isn’t supposed to be fun and turned it on its head. They’ve found a way to bust out of a paradigm that had them passing the time until the work day was over and living only for the weekends (or maybe they never bought into it at all.) And they may have suffered a mishap or two – the promotion they were hoping for went to someone else, the proposal they toiled on for hours ended up in someone’s trash can, the big sale slipped through their fingers. But they picked themselves up and focused on what they could do from that point forward.

These are the people that create the places, the products and the services I want to be a part of. They are bright eyed and big hearted. They care about others – and themselves too. They are courageous and also vulnerable. They’ve decided to stop playing small and when someone tells them it can’t be done, they do it anyway. They make the world brighter one moment at a time. These people have taken off the masks that keep people from seeing who they really are. No pretense, hype or facades.

And they attract the best and the brightest talent.

It’s is as true in big business as it is corner coffee shops. The movers and the shakers – those who become customer magnets, strategic influencers, and high performing superstars gravitate to workplaces that match their passion and vitality.

These businesses – and the people who work for them – have got it going on. I will gladly pay a premium to experience their energy, enthusiasm and passion. And judging from the masses who eagerly line up at their doors, I am not the only one.

How to Change a Habit That is Hurting You, Part 4

My last three posts How to Change a Habit That is Hurting You, Part I, Part II and Part III,  were about the first three steps for changing a habit that is hurting you:

(1)    Make a decision, a declaration and a commitment to yourself.

(2)    Surround yourself with reminders of what you are moving toward.

(3)    Notice how often you engage in the behavior you want to change and what the impact is when you do.

The next step will help you identify the root of the habit you want to change so that you can work with the real source of the issue instead of simply addressing symptoms that will eventually return.

im - possible - free digitalSTEP FOUR:  Examine and challenge your assumptions.

Sometimes even though you recognize a behavior that isn’t serving you and you also realize how very much it is hurting you, you still feel compelled to engage in it.  Usually this is because your behavior is linked to a limiting assumption or belief.  Just as we can engage in behaviors that do not serve us, we can also engage in ways of thinking that are equally hurtful.  Action follows thought and assumptions are thoughts that are like the strings on puppets, controlling their every move.  When these assumptions are unexamined, they propel us to engage in actions without thinking.

When you examine the assumptions that are linked to a behavior you are trying to change, you may find that though the assumptions are very compelling, they are not very logical and in some cases may be downright erroneous. An assumption underneath an explosion of anger might be something like, “If I don’t get the upper hand here, I’m going to get run over.”  An assumption that keeps people from taking bold action could be something like “I don’t have what it takes to do what I really want to do,” or “If I try and fail I’ll be worse off than I am now.”

What most of us don’t realize is that assumptions like these tend to get us into more trouble than they prevent.  They also have us acting in ways that reinforce the assumption.  In the first case, acting out of a desire to keep from being run over often leads people to run over others and be blinded to constructive alternatives that don’t have them going to extremes.   As a result, others respond in ways that are equally aggressive, thus confirming the belief that they have to look out for themselves above all else.

In the second case, if you assume that you aren’t capable of doing what you really want to do, you’ll act with hesitation (if at all), and your wavering will keep you from doing the work you are truly capable of or cause you to make things much harder than they need to be.  You may look to your lack of results as confirmation that your assumption was correct, but the real problem is the impact the assumption itself had on your ability to act with confidence.

Identifying these assumptions can be tricky because they often are so engrained that we don’t even realize they are operating. But if you stop to reflect on what it is you are believing about the situation, yourself or others you can begin to become aware of them.  Here are some questions that can help shed light on the thinking that could be sabotaging your best efforts:

– What am I believing right now about the situation, myself, or others?

– Is it really true?  Can I be absolutely, positively sure that it is true?

– When I believe that thought, how do I tend to act?  How do I feel?  Is it working for me?

– Who would I be and what could I do without that thought?

– What can I believe that is more true than what I used to believe and will also help me do what I really want to do?

Click here for step five of How to Change a Habit That is Hurting You.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at