All posts by Diane

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

TWITTER-2017-JULY-10

 

Have 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 Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.  Registration for the fall session is now open!

This 13-week leadership development 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. 

The program will kick off in late September and go through early December.  Enrollment is limited, so save your seat as soon as you can.






Give Presence: 3 Steps for Creating the Gift That Everyone Needs Most

Diane Bolden, Executive Leadership Coach, of Phoenix, Arizona.

Can you recall the last time you felt totally and completely attended to?

Chances are it wasn’t when someone was giving you advice or telling you what to do. It may not have even been when someone was engaging in an activity on your behalf or watching you tear open a gift. And yet when we think of giving something to others our minds often immediately jump to what we can do, say or buy for someone. Many times, the best gift we can give someone is that of our presence.

But what exactly is presence?

The word present derives from the Latin past participle praesse meaning “to be before one”, from the roots pra – pre + esse – to be. I believe presence is a state of being that’s achieved when we are truly in the moment, allowing it to unfold without judging it, labeling it, or getting lost in our thoughts about what it means or what we believe should be happening next (or instead).

Presence allows us to cut through the clamor of our preoccupations, worries and fears so that our true selves can emerge. It is a gateway through which our intuition and inner wisdom enters and expresses itself. A moment of presence is a state of grace that can produce great insights that help us to truly learn from our experiences, make the most of our opportunities and rise up to our challenges in creative ways.

In these moments of presence, we know who we really are and what we are truly capable of.

Have you ever noticed that people tend to match each other’s intensity and tone when they are together? Comments about trivial matters are often matched with similar banter. Expressions of fear or dread often elicit responses that are equally charged, and expressions of anger have a way of provoking reactions that people later regret.

In a similar manner, moments of presence when shared with others can evoke powerful responses that can be revealing and transformational.

This is because when you are truly present with another human being you create a space that allows that person’s true self to come out as well. This is why the best leaders have learned to become comfortable with silence, to listen more than they talk, and to allow themselves to become instruments that help others to recognize their own greatness – not necessarily through anything that say or do, but rather through moments of presence that are created and shared with others.

So how does one cultivate a moment of presence?

It is really rather simple, though far easier said than done.

  • The first step is to be still. That’s right. Sit still. I know it goes against everything you were probably taught about getting things done and being useful. But do it anyway. You can practice now, while you read this. Become aware of your breathing, of the space you are sitting in, of the weight of your body and how it feels in this moment. Feel the life inside you and trace it to each part of your body. Listen to the sounds around you. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly.
  • Become aware of your thoughts. Observe the activity of your mind as it continues to process whatever is there– thoughts like, “this is silly, really – I have way too much to do to be sitting here, doing this…” and “I have to remember to call so and so back today,” and “What did my [boss, colleague, friend, etc.] mean when he/she said…”. Recognize that you are not your thoughts, but rather the thinker of your thoughts. Simply watch them parade around, without getting sucked into them. Feel how much bigger you are than all of that. Continue to breathe it in.
  • Step three…. There really is no step three. Simply continue to repeat steps one and two, immersing yourself more deeply into the experience with each breath. You don’t need to do this for an extended period of time, unless you want to. Often even a couple of minutes are sufficient to bring you to a more intense state of awareness and aliveness.

In these moments of presence, you will experience things on a different level – one that allows you to respond from a deeper, wiser part of yourself. And when you are with others, you will bring out that deeper, wiser part of them as well. Presence is incredibly powerful to practice with others. The process is the same, except that you expand your awareness to take in the other person as well.

Look into their eyes, and listen to what they are saying. But listen to what they are not saying as well. Presence is more about being than doing. So allow yourself to truly BE with another, devoid of judgments, labels, and agendas. When you listen from this place, you are like water to a thirsty plant, allowing others to open up and soak in needed nutrients.

And in this space, they may just find the answers they seek as well – not because you are giving them, but because you have created a space that is illuminating for everyone.

For more on cultivating presence and how it can enrich both your leadership and your life, check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.  Registration for the fall session is now open!

This 13-week leadership development 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. 

The program will kick off in late September and go through early December.  Enrollment is limited, so save your seat as soon as you can.

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.

When my kids were young I was intent on capturing photos and video 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 shots that I missed those precious moments altogether. And it’s never quite the same when you watch the replay.

So I started resisting the urge to reach for my camera.

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, consider joining me in the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.  Registration is now open!

This 13-week leadership development 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. 

The program will kick off in late September and go through early December.  Enrollment is limited, so save your seat as soon as you can.

How to (Finally) Get Your Most Important Work Done

Is there something vital that you’ve been meaning to get to that seems just out of reach? A juicy project, initiative or undertaking that you’re passionate about – that could potentially make a big impact on your career, in your organization, or simply on another human being?

If you’re like most people, the answer is yes. We all tend to have something relatively important we’ve been putting off – for lack of time, energy, focus (or a combination of all three). Sometimes it keeps slipping because other people’s projects and requests tend to take priority.

But more often than not, these critical tasks and projects are in a perpetual state of incompletion because we simply have not gotten serious about carving out time (and energy) to do them. They tend to have a few things in common:

  • They require you to think creatively – to bring into form something that did not previously exist or to solve a problem that doesn’t have easy answers.
  • It seems the time it will take to do them is greater than the time you have available.
  • The thought of jumping in makes you mildly uncomfortable, leading you to be all too inclined to put other things ahead of them.

I know, because the article you are now reading fell into that category for me. So, in effect I am writing this as much for my own benefit as yours.

Below are three simple tips to help you get off the dime and get those essential projects rolling.

(1) Make the decision to stop talking/thinking/planning and start DOING.

The word decision derives from the Latin “decidere”, which literally means “to cut off,” from de- “off” + ceadere “to cut”. Making a decision means cutting yourself off from other options. In the words of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid, “There is no try, only do.”

Sometimes you can kick start yourself by using this logic in reverse. What if the option you cut yourself off from was the completion of this important task/project/initiative? What would be the impact on your life if you did not do it? How would you feel? And what would the effect be on others?

If you were to flash forward another week/month/year/decade, and you still hadn’t done this thing that has likely been gently (or not so gently) nudging you forward, would you be okay with that?

Conversely, what is there to gain by going all in? How would you benefit? How will the work you are on the verge of doing enrich the lives of others or make a difference in a way that matters? Flash forward and imagine that you have completed it. How would you feel? And what kind of impact would it have on the world around you?

William James once said, “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” Sometimes the very incompletion of a task that has meaning and significance for us is more exhausting than the energy required to actually do it. So, make the decision today to cut yourself off from other options and move into action.

This leads us to the next tip.

(2) Block time and hold it sacred.

Now that you’ve made the decision to get that precious piece of work done, you must dedicate time to do it. Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t necessarily need to have large, uninterrupted chunks of time to make progress. Even the smallest of actions you can take will begin creating momentum that will move you closer to your finish line.

Break bigger projects into smaller milestones and get into the practice of using whatever time you have to take action toward your goals. Challenge your assumptions on how long things will take to get done. Interrupt that chatter in your head that has you believing you don’t have time to make a dent in something by simply moving into action in spite of it. Just get started.

Reserve larger chunks of time by scheduling meetings with yourself. Consider sending yourself a meeting notice, complete with a subject line and an agenda that spells out your objectives in the body of the message. This will serve to direct your attention and focus to what you have the power to accomplish in the time you have reserved.

Regard these meetings you schedule with yourself the same way you would a meeting with a client or your boss. If despite your best efforts, something else must be scheduled in its place, don’t just delete it from your calendar. Find an alternative date and time in the same way you would another appointment that you are committed to.

If upon looking at your calendar it seems there is simply no time available, challenge yourself to use the discernment necessary to create it. What can you delegate, defer or dump? How can you simplify the things that may not require as much time as you thought they would? What things are you involved in that in the scheme of things really aren’t true priorities?

Now that you have allocated time to work on those precious projects, let’s talk about how you can create the kind of space you’ll need to make good progress on them.

(3) Maximize your FOCUS and PRODUCTIVITY.

During the time you have set aside to do that important work that has previously eluded you, it is likely there will be a multitude of things competing for your attention.  We are conditioned to believe that taking time for ourselves is indulgent. But in many cases, it is the most generous thing you can do because it allows you to engage in the kind of work that is of greatest service to others.

Despite that fact, many of us are all too quick to defer those projects that bring us the greatest joy to meet the urgent requests of someone or something that is demanding our attention.

Sometimes that is an actual person standing in front of us, but often it is the little ding that tells us an email has landed in our inbox, or the ring of the phone that we are conditioned to answer without even thinking, or the lure of social media or internet surfing that sucks up immeasurable amounts of time that we’ll never get back.

So, it is essential to consciously and intentionally eliminate distractions and create the kind of setting that is most conducive to enhancing your focus and productivity. Close your Outlook or Gmail and your browsers as well. Make the decision not to answer the phone.

Shut your door (if you have one) and/or communicate with others to manage their expectations about when you will become available. If you have the option, you may even consider going to a remote location like a coffee shop or restaurant where you are less likely to be disturbed.

Notice what environment leads you to find your zone of productivity. Some prefer a completely quiet space, while others enjoy ambient sounds around them. Some like music in the background or the sound of water.

Set a timer and designate anywhere from thirty to fifty minutes to do a “sprint” of work followed by a five to ten minute break that allows you to relax, take some deep breaths, move your body, get a drink of water and/or rest your eyes. Research shows this practice will dramatically increase your productivity (and I have validated that through my own experience as well.)

One of my favorite apps is Focus at Will, which offers a variety of background music and sounds that are designed to keep your brain at the right focus level by increasing beta and theta brainwave activity. The program allows you to set a timer, at which point the background sound will stop signaling time for a break.

A few words on why your most important work shouldn’t wait another minute…

We are all conditioned to move so fast from one thing to another checking boxes that it becomes all too easy to sacrifice the strategic in favor of the operational. Those juicy projects and creative visions that beckon to us in our quiet moments are vital not only to our sanity and sense of meaning and purpose, but also to the very future of our organizations and the lives of the people they serve.

The most extraordinary leaders (at all levels of both small and large organizations) heed these calls to break out of business as usual by tending to work that has real significance.  In so doing, they experience the rich rewards of fulfilling work that makes a bigger, more sustainable impact in the world.

If you would like to learn how to break out of business as usual to do YOUR best work – in a way that fills you up AND allows you to move the needle, consider joining me in the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.  Registration is now open!

The program will kick off in late September and go through early December.  Enrollment is limited, so save your seat as soon as you can.



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

 

 

woman hiking to work on figuring things out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

If you want to go deeper and learn more about how to not only dream big but also bring those dreams to fruition (and overcome all the obstacles that have kept you from doing so in the past), check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.

Registration for the fall session is NOW OPEN! Enrollment is limited – so save your seat as soon as you can.

 

 

Supercharge Your Summer: Three Strategies for Vacationing that Replenish You and Skyrocket Your Performance

 

We all know we need vacations.frustrated man feels the need for a vacation to replenish

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

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

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

Here are three strategies for accomplishing this:

(1) Make the decision to completely disconnect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t underestimate the power of your example.

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

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

If you want to learn to infuse your work year-round with the same freshness and inspiration you feel after a good vacation, consider joining me in the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.

Registration is now open!  Enrollment is limited – so save your seat today.




Lightening Your Load: Mind Over Matter

a profile image of a young woman with her hair blowing in the wind and feeling the lightening of the load

Have you ever noticed that your experience  directly reflects  your state of mind?  When our minds are cluttered, our surroundings have a way of mirroring that.  Feelings of being scattered are often accompanied by piles of unfinished business everywhere you look or lists and notes of things to do that seem to multiply.  When you feel heavy and bogged down, everything you do will feel harder and more cumbersome.

You may think that the way you feel is a result of your experiences, and that is true — the more you have to do, the more overwhelmed you will feel.  But the reverse also applies — the more overwhelmed you feel, the more 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.  If we become fixated on evidence that suggests we can never rise above the way we are feeling, we trap ourselves in vicious circles where we will continue to see that which we long to rise above and feel the frustration of not being able to break free.

In fact, our frame of mind with everything we do will have a direct effect on whether the experience of doing it will be exhilarating  and satisfying or frustrating and heavy.  The stories we tell ourselves have a way of coming true – “There’s just way too much to do and not enough time to do it.  I’m too busy  to do anything fun, to take time out for my family, friends or myself, to ever get beyond the day to day and into those things I dream about…”  The way out of the traps we set for ourselves is to start not with our experiences, but our thoughts. 

One day a while back, I turned into my driveway and caught sight of the hedges that needed trimming.  “Wouldn’t it be fun to drop everything and go cut those right now – to just get out there and work in the yard for awhile?” I found myself thinking.  And then I laughed as I realized that this task that seemed so enjoyable compared to the list of things on my plate at that moment was one of the very things I was dreading a few weekends ago.  The task itself hadn’t changed, just the way I was thinking about it.

And it hit me that perhaps there was a way to transform all the things I needed to do that day  — which were really bringing me down — into experiences that could be lighter and simpler — and maybe even fun.  The key had to be in the way that I approached them – in what I was believing about them, and what I was focusing on as I did them.  As I became aware of my attitude toward the tasks at hand, I realized that I was more fixated on checking the box than I was on enjoying the experience.  And I was also swept up in the belief that the work ahead of me was going to be hard, onerous and complicated.

What if all that changed?  What if instead of believing I had to get everything done perfectly, I just played at things, took myself a little less seriously, and lightened up a bit?  And what if instead of believing I needed to get it ALL done, I just focused on what was most important — most aligned with the highest priorities in my day and in my life? And what if instead of driving solely toward the outcome, I allowed myself to be fully present in every moment that led up to it? Hmm.

Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  And I have also heard it said that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

The fundamental shift must come not in what we do, or even how we do it, but what we are thinking, believing and allowing ourselves to feel about what we are doing.  To this end, setting an intention or statement of our desired experience can be very powerful.  If what we want is greater freedom and joy, more meaning and satisfaction and heightened effectiveness, we must align our thoughts around enjoying those experiences before we even start.  And we need to become diligently aware of the degree to which our thoughts stay aligned with our overarching intention.  When they drift, we can come back to them, remember what we really want, and align ourselves with the state we wish to be in once again.

In this way, we break the vicious cycle of allowing our experiences to bring us down in ways that result in more lousy experiences  —  and begin anew.  We consciously align our thoughts with what we most want, rather than letting them denigrate into the negative emotional states we seek to rise above.  Our actions align with our thoughts, and we find ourselves coming up with creative ways to simplify, get focused on what is most important and get it done while enjoying ourselves in the process – and sharing our joy with everyone around us.

Looking for a better way to lighten your load?

Check out the The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13-week leadership development program designed to help high achieving (and often overextended) leaders minimize pressure and stress so they can access their best work — and enjoy their lives more both on and off the job.

Though the spring program has now closed, registration for the fall program will open soon. To get on the waiting list, email Support@DianeBolden.com.


Want to Do More? You Should Start by Doing Less

Believe in your dream - Diane Bolden Executive Coach and Professional Development

 

What are you longing to create for yourself?

And what do you need to let go of to allow it to fully take root?

 

We are a goal driven society that is conditioned to seek more.

Our egos desire more money, more fame and prestige, and more stuff. A deeper part of ourselves longs for more peace, more meaning, and more purpose in our lives. We want to move beyond our previous realizations of what we’ve already accomplished to master newer, better ways of doing things—whether that be what we create in our lives or in our organizations—and as leaders what we can inspire others to do as well.

What if you started with less instead of more?

Though it is tempting to occupy ourselves with thoughts of how we can go about achieving all of this and what we need to do more of, perhaps what we really need to start with is what we need to do less of – what we need to let go of to create the space for something new to come in.

We are constantly evolving as human beings.

It is so easy to look to the past to define who we are through the things we’ve already done – goals we’ve achieved, titles we’ve acquired, and creations we have built. Our previous experiences coagulate to form an identity that is easy to confuse with our true nature.

The fact of the matter is, you are not your accomplishments, your creations, or the sum of the various roles you play in your life – manager, director, vice president, mother, father, friend, son, daughter, etc. You are much, much more than that. Your potential is limitless.

And yet, we limit ourselves by definitions of who we think we are – or should be.

They filter the experiences we allow ourselves to have and compel us to define the form that our deepest longings should take. To be happy, we reason – we must get that promotion, achieve this or that goal, hit that target. So we continue to go through the motions, doing the kinds of things we’ve always done – on a sort of autopilot.

Some of this may bring satisfaction, and some may lead to discontentment.

We need to attune ourselves to that which brings us the most of what we truly desire and open ourselves to the possibility that what we really want may need to come in a form that has previously been undefined for us. In short, we must allow ourselves to surrender what we think we know to open to the mystery that is unfolding in each of our lives.

Easier said than done, right?

How exactly do you go about letting go of the known when it is all you know?

We can take our cues from nature. Snakes and other reptiles shed their skin, trees drop their leaves, and caterpillars create cocoons in which their forms entirely dissolve before recreating themselves in the form of butterflies. Even a fish in a bowl cannot stay in water that contains its excrement – the waste must either be emptied and replaced with new water, or absorbed by something else that will remove it from the fish’s environment. Without engaging in these renewing processes, these creatures will die. And so it is with us. Many of us are already walking around encased in layers of old, dead stuff that needs to be released.

What are you holding onto in your life that has run its course?

  • What are the old outmoded ways of doing things that no longer bring you energy?
  • What are the things you’ve acquired that you no longer need?
  • What beliefs are you holding onto that are no longer true for you?

Pay attention to the times that you feel constricted, anxious, or tired and in those moments ask what you can let go of. Don’t be afraid of the answer. Though it may frighten you because it introduces an element of the unknown, following these insights will always lead to freedom and liberation.

Your computer can only handle so much data, and the same is true of you.

If you do not delete old email and get rid of files that have been accumulating over the years, and if you continue to add new programs without deleting old ones, you will find that it becomes sluggish and unresponsive. Just as freeing up space allows your computer to process things more quickly, so too will clearing your own personal space (whether of things or thoughts) allow you to access new levels of clarity and creativity.

Space brings freedom.

You will breathe easier, be more present in every action and interaction you partake of, and bring more of who you really are to what you do. And you will open the space of possibility that will allow something to come in that may surprise and delight you. Rather than being something you slave away for, it will simply emerge and reveal itself to you.

And of course, any work you do on yourself will serve as a form of leadership for others who, like you, seek their own answers and could benefit from your example of unearthing what is possible and allowing it to take form in new and unexpected ways.

Taking the time to discern what is and isn’t working in your life and up level your game becomes easier and more fun when you have support.

If you are ready to do a deep dive to supercharge your leadership and your life, I encourage you to check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13-week leadership development program designed to help high achieving (and often overextended) leaders minimize pressure and stress so they can access their best work — and enjoy their lives more both on and off the job.

Though the spring program has now closed, registration for the fall program will open soon. To get on the waiting list, email Support@DianeBolden.com.

Why Losing Your Passion for Work is a Bigger Problem Than You Might Think

 

Has work become a bit of a grind?

Executive Leadership Coach for Phoenix, Arizona - Diane BoldenYou might tell yourself that work isn’t supposed to be fun — that’s why they call it work. But when you spend the majority of your waking hours just getting through the day or counting down to the weekend, you have a bigger problem than you might think.

Most of us don’t start our professions that way, but over the years, disappointment, frustration and pressure can lead to disillusionment, disengagement and burnout. Lack of passion and joy on the job will hit you hard in three major areas:

(1) Personally

(2) Professionally, and

(3) Organizationally

Let’s take a look at how work becoming a grind affects you personally

You might think that as long as you can enjoy yourself after five (or six, or seven) and on the weekends, you will be just fine. But when you spend the better part of your day on a kind of autopilot, feeling like you’d rather be somewhere else, it’s hard to keep that negativity from spilling over to the rest of your life.

You may find yourself irritable, preoccupied, exhausted or just brain dead. And whether you know it or not, that infringes on your ability to fully enjoy the things, experiences and people in your personal life that you hold most precious.

You may even have a decent paycheck and enjoy a position of influence and status in your organization. But when the work you spend more of your waking hours doing is a continual grind, it’s easy to begin feeling as though life itself lacks meaning and fulfillment.

Perhaps you’ve made the decision (consciously or unconsciously) to put your personal happiness on the back burner in the name of your professional success and upward mobility.

Well, unfortunately lack of passion and joy on the job has a negative impact on your professional effectiveness as well. Let’s take a closer look at that.

Productivity

You can try all you want, but when you are exhausted and overwhelmed you will work very long days spinning your wheels without getting a whole lot accomplished. You may think you just don’t have enough time to finish everything on your plate. And while it is true that time is finite, your real problem is lack of energy.

Creativity and Problem Solving

Lack of energy makes everything take far longer than it should. It blocks you from accessing your creativity, leads you to unnecessarily complicate things, and pushes the solutions to your problems just out of reach. All of this will contribute to a feeling of being unable to get important things done, which will cause you to work longer hours and become even more exhausted.

Influence

If your job requires you to have even the slightest degree of influence over others, consider this: Getting someone excited about doing something is largely a matter of sharing your enthusiasm. But enthusiasm isn’t something that is easily feigned. And when you try to fake it, you will come across as being disingenuous, which will keep others from trusting you.

It’s exceedingly difficult to get anyone — whether it be your coworkers, your direct reports or your customers — to become excited about something you can’t muster up the passion for yourself. And while we’re on the subject of coworkers, direct reports and customers, let’s talk about the impact lack of passion and joy on the job has organizationally.

If you are a leader of others, whether you know it or not, you are setting the tone for the entire organization.

If you are not feeling emotionally committed, passionate, enthusiastic and connected to your work and the people you partner with to do it, chances are the people you lead will not be feeling it either.

Employee engagement

Research indicates that as much as 70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged. That translates into people who are physically present on the job, but not emotionally or mentally all there. When people are disengaged they go through the motions, doing as little as possible to fly under the radar.

The cost of complacency

This complacency causes all kinds of problems, including low quality products and services, plummeting productivity, low creativity and innovation, strained customer relationships, intra and interdepartmental conflict, absenteeism, high turnover, and ultimately low profitability. It does little to attract key talent, and certainly does not contribute to having a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

What does that have to do with you?

Engaged employees are people who feel part of something bigger than themselves — an organization with a shared purpose that has meaning to them. And they want to work for a boss who is turned on and tuned in to the organization and them as people.

If you have no passion or joy for your own work, you will be hard pressed to inspire it in others. In fact, you could end up unwittingly sucking the joy from those who already are engaged, and/or driving them to look for work elsewhere.

In summary

Losing your passion and joy at work has significant implications for you on three different levels:

(1) Personally. You just can’t turn it on and off like a light switch. If you are feeling a lack of passion and joy at work, chances are good it will translate into your personal life, like a dark cloud that follows you around despite your insistence that you can shoe it away. You deserve more out of life than that.

(2) Professionally. The overwhelm, frustration, and exhaustion you feel is likely keeping you from performing at your best. While you may be working very long hours, your problem is not lack of time but rather lack of energy. Lack of energy is accompanied by lack of creativity, problem solving and influence. Energy comes with passion and joy. And when passion and joy are lacking, your performance will be lacking too.

(3) Organizationally. Just as passion and joy can be contagious, so too is the lack of it. A leader’s lack of passion and joy gets translated into disengagement, both for the leader, and the followers. Disengagement negatively impacts productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction, employee recruitment and retention — and ultimately profitability.

So, if you feel like work has become a grind — but not a problem you have the luxury to address right now, think again. It may well be that you can’t afford not to. Rejuvenating your passion and joy on the job is easier than you think. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to find another job.

But that’s a subject for another article…

Looking to get away from that grind and reignite your passions? Check out the The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13-week leadership development program designed to help high achieving (and often overextended) leaders minimize pressure and stress so they can access their best work — and enjoy their lives more both on and off the job.

Though the spring program has now closed, registration for the fall program will open soon. To get on the waiting list, email Support@DianeBolden.com.

How to Summon Your Inner Warrior to Navigate Change, Challenge & Uncertainty

 

Can you recall the last time you were faced with great change, challenge and/or uncertainty?

Times of great upheaval and transition require that we bring our very best to the scene, and yet they also have a way of unnerving us. When you don’t know what to expect and feel as though much of what is happening around you is out of your control, it’s easy to begin to doubt your ability to successfully navigate through it (not to mention lead others to do the same).

Check out this video for insight on how to summon and embody your true strength — one that isn’t dependent on external circumstances, but rather self reliant and resilient in the face of any situation.

I hope you enjoy it!

If you’re experiencing upheaval in the face of change, check out the The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13-week leadership development program designed to help high achieving (and often overextended) leaders minimize pressure and stress so they can access their best work — and enjoy their lives more both on and off the job.

Though the spring program has now closed, registration for the fall program will open soon. To get on the waiting list, email Support@DianeBolden.com.