Sometimes the greatest insights come to you in the strangest places.
In the midst of inevitable twists and turns, I found myself in my garage…
…surrounded by relics of the past and inklings about the future.
And I realized a few things about the nature of change – and how best to endure it.
So I filmed a little video to capture these thoughts for you…
Are you familiar with what’s being called The Great Resignation? With resignations and job openings at an all time high, companies are competing to hire and retain top talent. But much of that talent is feeling overwhelmed, overextended and burned out.
Because THE WAY WE’VE BEEN WORKING ISN’T WORKING ANY MORE.
We are at an unprecedented time with regard to work/life integration challenges. Telecommuting allowed us more time at home, but for many it blurred the lines between our work and personal lives, skewing it toward work and leaving many feeling chewed up and spit out.
While it’s becoming clear we cannot go back to the way things were, we must find a way to chart a path that’ll get us where we really want to go – and redesign the way we work from the inside out.
There has never been a better opportunity for leaders to rise up and blaze a new trail. But before they can lead others, they must first do it for themselves. This video was created for those who feel compelled to answer that call.
Are you one of them?
Watch the video to find out, then visit www.UnleashtheExtraordinary.com for more details.
Well, the dust is finally settling, and the holiday decorations are (almost) packed up and put away for next year. For many, the holidays are a frenzied time – a rush to the finish line that has adrenaline spiking for days on end. Between running around trying to find the perfect gifts to sending out cards, preparing meals, entertaining family and friends and spending a lot of time around people we don’t often get to see, it can be exhausting.
Some of us were lucky enough to have a bit of down time before jumping back in to the excitement that the New Year brings. And others of us have simply been riding that wave that takes us from one activity to the next, with little time for transition. Though New Year’s Day has come and gone, it is never too late to take advantage of the demarcation that the end of one year and the beginning of another brings.
The turning of each year lends itself well to waxing reflective, calling to mind both the experiences in the past that have led us to the present moment, as well as what the future might hold – what magnificent things are bubbling up within us, just waiting to take form.
It’s curious that we often associate moments of reflection with major milestones (like a New Year), rather than as a continual process in our lives. Yet it’s easy to let the frenetic pace of business, the holidays, and personal affairs prevent us from enjoying the clarity of being alone with our thoughts, and even going beyond them into the silence of our own experience.
We get swept up in a kind of auto pilot mode, where we just do what is in front of us and go from one thing to the next, without a lot of thought.
But it is in the evaluation and reflection of our experiences that we receive insight – a vital gift that can become meaningful and empowering force in our lives.
Pressing on from one thing to the next without pausing long enough to integrate what we have learned deprives us of the gifts these experiences bring. It’s like finding a few wrapped presents with your name on them that were left behind in the festivities – and absentmindedly throwing them into a box instead of opening them up to see what’s inside.
Our experiences are uniquely designed to allow us to learn – about ourselves, others, and life itself. We learn about what works, what feels good, what doesn’t, who we are, what we are capable of, what we want more of (and less of too).
But only if we pause long enough to entertain the questions that allow us to unpack these gifts that are waiting to be opened.
If you have not yet afforded yourself the indulgence of conscious and intentional reflection, I encourage you to carve out some time to do so. Because the best goals, the best visions to move toward in the coming year will be those that align with the whispers of your heart – those that tap the infinite potential and wisdom that is already inside you. And you’ll never really know what those are until you take the time to go within and ask.
Below are some questions that can help you in this process. Some of these questions might seem more powerful to you than others – let yourself go where you are drawn with them. You may even want to take a quick look at them and then put them away and see what comes to you when your mind is empty of thoughts.
Or, you may scrap these questions and come up with different ones of your own. The important thing is to allow yourself the time to go within and listen with curiosity and earnestness.
QUESTIONS FOR YEAR-END REFLECTION
- As you reflect on this past year, what were your three or four most significant accomplishments, breakthroughs, and/or achievements?
- Looking back over the year, what (if anything) blocked or held you back as you moved toward your goals/objectives? How will you overcome those obstacles in the future?
- What were your biggest insights or realizations over the past year that you gained through your experiences?
- How will you apply what you learned this past year to what you want to create in the upcoming year?
- What are the top two or three things about your job/practice that you most want to be different this year?
- What two or three changes do you most want to see in your personal life?
- What significant challenges will face you this year? Personally? Professionally?
- What strengths will you rely on most to face the challenges that lie ahead?
- What qualities, skills, etc. could you develop within yourself to better arm you for the upcoming year?
- Picture yourself a year from now, looking back over the past year. What three or four accomplishments would you like to have achieved?
- What actions are you prepared to take to achieve your desired results for the upcoming year?
If you really want to supercharge your coming year, consider joining me and an intimate group of fellow leaders in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, kicking off in April. This exclusive 13-week leadership development experience goes beneath the surface of what most programs deliver, to help you learn to unleash genius in yourself and those you lead.
Enrollment will be limited to eight participants. Join the waiting list to have access to registration before it opens to the public.
I look forward to another year ahead of navigating a path of discovery – one that will lead us all closer to our most precious goals, and allow us to make the most out of every experience we have – leaving everything we touch a little better off for the interaction – our teams, our customers, our colleagues, friends, family, and of course, ourselves.
Wishing you a wonderful and prosperous New Year ahead!
Imagine that you’re cruising along in your car headed smoothly toward your destination. And then traffic slows to a stop.
Is there an accident ahead? Construction? Some other impediment?
No worries. Your GPS has an alternate route that’ll get you exactly where you need to go.
What if you could find your way around life’s roadblocks with the same ease and efficiency as your GPS system?
The video below will show you how.
It’s an excerpt from The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leaders Guide to Accessing the Freedom and Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13 week leadership development program kicking off next week, on 9/22/21. If you’re thinking about attending there are still a couple of spots available. Click here for more information or to reserve your seat.
Very few of us would drive for long without a seatbelt, especially with the loud blaring noises most cars make to alert us of the fact that we’ve forgotten to take such an important precaution. But if you ask people how long they’ve driven accompanied by a warning light that tells them they are due for an oil change or a tire rotation or are low on fuel, you’d likely hear a different story.
The same tends to be true in the way we approach our work and personal lives. We readily give our attention, time and energy to the issues that demand our attention – urgent requests, ringing phones, things that are in our faces. But we are all too likely to ignore those subtle little warning signs that indicate we need general maintenance to stay healthy and vibrant enough to make it to our ultimate destinations.
Think about your own life for a moment. Chances are you’re very busy, with a lot on your plate and many things in the pipeline. You are likely juggling many balls – and not just at work. With telecommuting becoming more of the norm, separating your personal and professional life has likely become a bit more challenging, as the line has become more blurred than ever. You may not be spending as much time in your car, but your compulsion to jump on the computer to knock a few things out when you’d otherwise be having personal time has likely taken a huge leap – even more so if your work expands across different time zones. And when you do that, the minutes all too easily stretch into hours.
The tendency of most high achievers who find themselves shouldering an increased load is to double down on their efforts – to work harder, longer, faster. If that is a familiar pattern for you, you know that when you get locked and loaded on a target, you are very likely to dismiss (or completely overlook) the subtle indicators that you are overextending your capacity and putting yourself at risk.
Occasionally though, the stress and overwhelm come to a head and you can’t help but notice them. Just as a car whose oil has become very dirty or whose gas tank is running on fumes doesn’t quite operate as effectively, you too will begin to notice more and more visible signs that something has got to be done to get your system back in optimal working condition.
How does that show up for you?
Do your shoulders gradually creep closer to your ears? Does your breathing get more and more shallow? Do you find yourself clenching your fists? Gritting your teeth? Losing your temper more often than you’d like?
Perhaps it’s more of a gnawing awareness that something’s got to give. You might feel as though you’re not sure you can continue at this pace. You may have a feeling that something is missing, or out of kilter. You could find that the things that used to satisfy you just don’t move the needle anymore like everything is just blending together in a kind of gray mush that you are continually trudging through.
The good news is that this is a state you can definitely do something about.
It’s more a product of LACK of consciousness than anything. This means that when you intentionally make a conscious, deliberate decision that you are ready to do something different, you can – and you will.
This week, I want to share with you some tips that can help you regain your sanity and tend to those little warning signs that you may have been overlooking for a little too long.
Today, we’ll explore a common “success formula” that tends to get people into trouble. This success formula is one that is so ingrained into the fabric of our existence that you may not even be aware of it. It is the conditioning that leads us to believe that the harder we work, the more we do, the busier we are, the more successful/valuable/worthy we will be (pick the adjective that resonates most for you).
It is not without some merit. After all, it is true that most things worth working for do require some degree of effort, and that obstacles often require diligence and increased commitment and grit to overcome.
But this approach, when overdone, can lead to the very burnout that keeps you from operating at all.
While it is true that you need to practice the kind of resilience that will keep you in the game rather than forfeiting the race, the best race car drivers know that you have to make occasional pit stops to make it through the long haul. The best athletes know that their bodies need to rest in order to perform at their best. And the best leaders and executives understand that sometimes you need to slow down in order to speed up.
The assumption that underlies the “success formula” that turns against us is one that leads you to believe you don’t have time to slow down, to be intentional, to gain clarity on where it is you are going and what you need to do along the way. That assumption leads you to overlook the importance of reflecting on where you’ve been and how the journey is going, what’s working and what needs to change, and how you can shift your action in a way that aligns with your desired result. It leads you to keep driving even when your tank is empty, your oil is dirty and your tires are bald. It’ll drive you into a ditch (or worse).
The first step to keeping that kind of programming from derailing you is to become aware that it is in fact operating and to realize what the impact of that programming has been.
Human beings don’t change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain or discomfort of doing things differently. But we often don’t recognize that this pain is self-imposed – as a result of the kind of thinking that compels us to keep pushing when we need to take our foot off the gas. Instead, we attribute our exhaustion, frustration, disillusionment, overwhelm, etc. to our circumstances.
But what if it were overuse of the “success formula” itself that leads you to deal with stress in a way that actually makes things more stressful?
Do you believe you can’t afford to slow down?
Is it really true? If you were to insert an hour into your schedule to do something that tends to your well-being, or allows you to gain some clarity or to replenish your energy, would you really be worse off? Do you know others who somehow find a way to do slow down and take breaks every once in a while, or do the things they love – and still manage to perform well (maybe even better?)
When you believe you can’t slow down, you’ll take in information that confirms it and screen everything else out. So if all that comes to mind is what you’d have to lose, see what happens when you get curious about what you’d have to gain.
Just for a moment, think about who you could be if you no longer let that thought dictate your response. Would you be willing to entertain the idea that there may be some things you can do to interrupt that crazy compulsion that has a way of keeping you on a hamster wheel, running faster than ever but not really getting anywhere? Or pushing a big rock up a hill only to have it come rolling back down again and again?
All you need at this point is the curiosity to entertain the thought that perhaps that old “success formula” has some holes in it – and that if you are open and willing to find a better way, the path will reveal itself to you.
In the coming days, I’ll give you some more tips and tools that will help you find it.
If you’d like to more fully explore what your life and work could be like beyond the conditioning that may be holding you back, consider enrolling in the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Unique Genius. This thirteen-week leadership development program is ideal for leaders and professionals experiencing high levels of stress, pressure and overwhelm who long to experience more passion, meaning and joy in their work and their lives and especially fitting for those who tend to take a lot on and want to minimize stress, pressure and overwhelm without sacrificing performance.
Public registration will open on September 1. Subscribers to DianeBolden.com are eligible to pre-register – email support@DianeBolden.com for more information.
With all things being equal, what differentiates those who rise to success (and continue to achieve it over an extended period) from those who stay where they are?
That was a question Mike Ettore, Executive Leadership Coach, author of Trust-Based Leadership, and founder of Fidelis Leadership Group, asked me on his podcast recently. The seven-minute clip below features my answer as well as Mike’s thoughts on the best way to advance. Click below to listen in.
Here is a summary of the tips and take-a-ways:
- Take the time to build solid relationships. Seek people out, ask a lot of questions, and get advice. Listen deeply and learn as much as you can from them.
- Relate to people in a way that makes them feel valued and supported. Make it clear you have their best interests in mind. Be completely present. Give people your full attention.
- Make the success of others just as, if not more important than your own. Be humble and service oriented. Find ways to contribute – even the smallest gestures can go a long way.
- Be curious. Learn about what others believe are unmet needs – for both individuals and the organization as a whole. Gather information that allows you to identify emerging challenges and opportunities, and what can be done to address them.
- Create opportunities instead of waiting for them to emerge. Determine how you can utilize your own unique blend of talent, experience, passion and energy to address unmet needs as well as emerging challenges and opportunities. Show resourcefulness and ingenuity.
- Be patient and persevere. The connections and conversations you have with people will position you as someone who is a service-oriented team player that is serious about contributing to the success of the organization. When consistent and thoughtful, your initiative can put you at the top of a candidate list before a job opening is ever even publicized.
Life has a tendency to disappoint at times – sometimes more than others, of course. For many of us, the frequency has increased disproportionately over the last year or so.
We have lost things we valued, endured things we never would have wished for, and weathered the increased tension and anxiety that comes when vital issues (some long buried) surface and come to a head.
We all naturally focus on what we most want – and in times of stress, anxiety and frustration we often feel as though despite our best efforts we just aren’t getting it. You can lose yourself in disappointment and irritation and stay in it for days, weeks, months and even years.
But perhaps there is a way out of it. One that provides you not only what you most need – but has the potential to spill over and benefit others as well.
I saw a profound example of a quite uncommon approach for dealing with frustration, disappointment and grief back when I was an undergraduate.
My roommate had been uncharacteristically gloomy for several weeks. Her usually delightful demeanor had become heavy and dark.
One day when I came home from class, there was an envelope taped to our door. As I looked around the building we lived in, I noticed similar envelopes hanging on other doors. This one had my name on it, handwritten.
I tore it open and found a piece of notebook paper upon which was written one of the most heartfelt notes I had ever read. It was signed “from someone who appreciates you deeply”.
As I read it, I found myself falling into the page while small tears began to collect at the corners of my eyes. The author of the note had recounted things I had done over the last several weeks (many of which I thought were insignificant) that made a difference in that person’s life.
There were kind, warm words of praise and gratitude as well as encouragement and inspiration. Whoever wrote it apparently thought I was special and took the time to tell me why in such a way that it profoundly touched me.
I looked up and saw someone across the hall reading her note and watched as her face began to light up.
When I opened the door to our place, I found my roommate sitting contentedly writing in her journal and sipping a cup of tea. She looked up and smiled for what seemed the first time in weeks.
“Did you get one of these notes?’ I asked her.
“No,” She responded with a grin.
And then it hit me. She was the one who wrote the notes. She didn’t admit it at first, but I finally got it out of her.
“What led you to do this?” I asked her. “It must have taken you hours!”
“I was tired of feeling tired and sad and lonely,” she said. I was sick of my gloomy little world. And I decided that if I couldn’t make it better for myself, maybe I could make it better for someone else.”
She had started with one note. And then she wrote another. And then another. And it felt so good, she said, that she decided she’d just write until she didn’t feel like writing anymore.
That was almost thirty years ago. And it still inspires me.
She taught me more through her actions than I would have learned by reading ten books that day. I don’t think she intended it at the time, or even realized it until she started writing, but the gift she gave to everyone in that building ended up being something that benefitted her just as much as everyone else.
And my guess is that it is still benefitting her and everyone else – because I know it’s still meaningful and significant to me.
Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, “All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.”
Perhaps this is one of the true gifts in giving – that when we get outside of ourselves to touch another human being, it has a way of bringing us gently back to ourselves so that we too receive the gift.
And it holds true even when we think we have nothing left to give.
When our egos get the best of us and we think nothing will ever go the way we want it to, we can transcend a state of wanting by moving into a state of giving.
Think of something you want right now, in this moment. What is it that “something” will give you? Most likely it is a feeling – perhaps a feeling of contentment, satisfaction, prosperity, abundance, or joy.
Now, see if there is something you can do for another person to help them experience those things.
Often when we give to others, we find we already had that which we were seeking. We realize the thing we thought we needed is a means to an end that we have already arrived at. And perhaps this, in and of itself is the true gift of giving.
For more on how to transcend frustration, pressure and stress to get what you really want, check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Unique Genius. Though the spring group session has closed, you can join the waiting list to be notified of the next session.
Rainer Maria Wilke once said, “The future enters into us, long before it happens, in order to transform itself in us.”
I believe that quote speaks to some of those random experiences that on the face of things don’t make a lot of sense – but in retrospect seem to provide a sense of order to the seemingly chaotic (and often undesirable) events that take place in our lives.
This week’s video, “Life’s Perfect Classroom” is an example of how that played out in my life. I offer it in the hope that my story will help you recognize events in your own life that have allowed you to get where you are today – and perhaps even more importantly, those now unfolding that will play a pivotal role in what you will ultimately do next.
Here’s to your growth and inevitable success!
It’s been said that how you do anything is how you do everything. If that’s true, then the improvements you make in the way you do things anywhere will spill over into what you do EVERYWHERE.
I decided to play with that logic one weekend when attempting to find an easier, less grueling way to get through all the things I wanted to accomplish. And I discovered a tiny little tweak that ended up making a big difference not only in my productivity at home, but also at work.
In less than five minutes, this week’s video, A Visionary Approach for Getting More Done with Less Effort will tell you all about it – so you can try it for yourself.
Here’s to your success!
The other day I came across a piece of paper that brought back a rather unsettling memory of a pivotal conversation I had long ago, about something that was very important to me. I didn’t realize just what an impact it had on me until I stopped to recall it – and consider all the things that have unfolded in the years that passed.
I filmed a video about it that you can find on my LinkedIn page.
I’d love to hear your thoughts after you watch – you can leave a comment right on LinkedIn. And if we are not yet connected there, hit that blue “Connect” button while you’re at it.
Sometimes it takes a while to embody the things you strive for. The journey may have a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs. But it’s definitely well worth traveling.
If you’d like some support on your journey, there are still a couple of seats remaining in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed – The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius kicking off on Wednesday (3/3). It’s a thirteen-week leadership development program that will help you move beyond the conditioning that keeps you from rising to the extraordinary results you are capable of achieving – with less effort and more joy along the way.
I’d love to have the opportunity to work with you.
Here’s to the journey – and the ever-unfolding destination!