Category Archives: Guidance

How to Leverage the Power of Gratitude in Your Career

DianeBolden_FB_11.20.17

The Thanksgiving season naturally lends itself to recognizing what we have to be grateful for. Health, family, friends, and prosperity are among the most commonly cited blessings. What comes most easily to mind are the warm, fuzzy areas of our lives that naturally lend themselves to feelings of appreciation.

But the power of gratitude reaches far beyond those things that bring immediate smiles to our faces.

And leveraging this power requires that we embrace not only the happy times but also the tougher experiences we’ve had that we would often rather forget about. Because the most challenging times in our lives and our careers are often accompanied by some of the richest blessings.

  • That proposal that you worked day and night on but ended up going nowhere.
  • The difficult customer/coworker/boss/direct report that continually pushed all your buttons.
  • The presentation you made that didn’t have the impact you would have liked.
  • The restructuring in your division that took you to the edges of your comfort zone and required you to navigate through uncertainty that was as unfamiliar as it was unsettling.

These things that push us to our edges come bearing gifts.

And we tend to move so quickly that we fail to pause long enough to unpack those blessings and truly integrate them. But when we do, we often realize in hindsight that these less than ideal circumstances allow us to grow, to become stronger, to more resilient, more compassionate, more insightful, more wise.

The circumstances themselves pass, but the gifts remain.

Cultivating this deeper level of gratitude allows us to contemplate the idea that perhaps life isn’t happening to us, but rather for us. These challenges that test our patience, push us to our edges, and appear to be nothing more than irritating obstacles are often the very things we need in order to become the best versions of ourselves.

It’s easier to see the perfect order of things in retrospect.

Can you think of a challenge you faced in the recent (or not so recent) past that stretched your limits? Consider for a moment what you learned as a result of that experience. What did the experience itself require that you activate within yourself to successfully move through it? And how did it make you a better leader? A stronger performer? A wiser and more compassionate person?

The reason these insights come to us in hindsight is that our thinking settles.

When we are not so frazzled and pressured by the need for an immediate response, or plagued by worried and doubt, the static that prevented us from seeing and appreciating the deeper purpose and significance subsides. And there is space for gratitude to emerge.

Gratitude, yes for all the things that are going well in our lives – our health, the precious people in our lives, our prosperity – but also gratitude for the experiences that allow us to see who we really are when our backs are to the wall, to step up and into our true potential, to realize ourselves to be much stronger and more capable than we thought we were.

What if you could leverage the power of hindsight in the present?

What if you could learn to look beyond the tangle of thoughts that may have you in a knot as you approach a current or emerging challenge – with the knowing that this unsettling, less than optimal situation also comes bearing gifts and blessings?

What if instead of focusing on the uncertainty of the situation and the external circumstances you could turn your attention to the knowing that you have what it takes to rise up to this and any other challenge? All you have to do is look to your past for evidence that it is there.

If you take it a step further, you can become grateful for the situations and circumstances you previously wished would go away.   Because you know that along with the struggle, they provide you with gateways that invite you to discover and unearth who you really are. This approach allows you to face your challenges with curiosity, playfulness and grace – mindsets that catalyze insight, creativity, and the resilience you need to find your way and emerge victorious.

Now that’s something to be grateful for.

Using the wisdom of hindsight in the present is just one approach I teach in  The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius  to help high achieving executives appreciate and leverage the perfect order of their most challenging experiences to unleash their greatness.

The Spring 2022 session will kick off in March.  Enrollment will be limited to eight participants and offered to those on the waiting list before registration opens to the public.





3 Fundamental Truths to Help You Become What You Most Admire

When Halloween rolls around, it invites the question: if you could be anything for one evening, what would it be?

The tradition invokes a feeling of fantasy. Whether your answer is a super hero or a villain or something in between, the very act of asking the question and imagining a response reminds us that we have the ability, even if for a simple costume party, to explore aspects of ourselves that want to be expressed.

And the invitation to step into a new way of experiencing the world (or projecting what the world experiences of us) doesn’t have to wait for Halloween or stop when it’s over.

Have you ever secretly dreamed of becoming something different than what you are right now? Maybe you’d like to be more of a strategic player, become more visible, make a bigger impact, or lead more people. Perhaps you have visions of learning a new skill, working in a different industry, or serving a different customer base. Or maybe you’d simply like to step into a new way of living and leading – one that allows you to be more confident, calm, and engaging, or less stressed, pressured and anxious.

Regardless of the change you seek, you would not have the desire if you didn’t also have the capability to achieve it. As Napolean Hill once told us, “Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.” Moving from thought to reality requires that we embrace three simple, yet powerful truths:

  • You don’t have to be born with an innate talent to do something in order to learn it,
  • You don’t have to eliminate anxiety and doubt in order to perform well, and
  • You don’t have to sacrifice who you truly are in order to become who you want to be.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these.

You don’t have to be born with an innate talent in order to learn it.

On its face, this statement seems fairly obvious. After all, none of us knew how to walk or talk when we were babies. Many of the things you know how to do today were things you had no idea how to approach at some point in your past. While it is true that some of the things you learned over the course of your life came more easily to you than others, with practice and persistence you were able to increase your proficiency and improve your desired results.

You may think you don’t have the aptitude to learn or become certain things. But the problem may be more in what you are believing than anything. In her ground-breaking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck discusses two different approaches to learning a new skill. Some people operate from a “fixed mindset”, considering talent to be an inborn trait for some (but not others). Others operate with a “growth mindset” which allows for the possibility of learning something that doesn’t come naturally to them. Her research shows that those in the latter group consistently outperform those in the former.

The fundamental difference comes in how those mindsets impact your behavior. With a fixed mindset, you’ll dread failure because you believe it is a reflection of your innate abilities. However, with a growth mindset you’ll be more likely to see things not going well at first as an opportunity to learn and grow in ways that improve your performance. A fixed mindset will lead you to quit before you even start, while a growth mindset will impel you to continue to practice, learn and improve.

The words of Henry Ford come to mind, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

But that doesn’t mean it will come easily, which leads to the next fundamental truth we must embrace.

You don’t have to eliminate anxiety and doubt in order to perform well.

Chances are that whatever you aspire to become is something that is beyond your current zone of comfort. If it wasn’t, you’d already be doing it. As I wrote in The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader, anytime you endeavor to make a change in your life, you will be met with resistance. Whether that resistance takes the form of anxiety or doubt or plain old yellow-bellied fear, no amount of careful learning and preparation will completely alleviate it.

Many of us (myself included) have spent years attempting to hone and refine our skill from a mental level before ever attempting to execute. The irony is the that most impactful and effective way to learn is often to simply do. In doing, we discover what works and what doesn’t and gain an intuitive feel for what we need to adapt to achieve the success we desire. Through trial and error our skill and effectiveness grow.

But the anxiety and the doubt and that little voice in your head that incessantly rattles on in ways that lead you to question your ability and your nerve will continue. If you can see those feelings as signs of progress that you are stepping up your game, you can perform in spite of them – and maybe even begin to appreciate them.

You can also learn to recognize that little nagging voice for what it is: a product of your thoughts and nothing more. As you stop giving it so much of your energy and attention, you may find that you can coexist with it in the same way you tolerate any other irritating but seemingly harmless disturbances, like a rattle in your car or an annoying commercial on the radio.

Sometimes that little voice will ask, “who do you think you are?” which leads us to the third fundamental truth we must embrace to move from desire to reality.

You don’t have to sacrifice who you truly are in order to become who you want to be.

The idea of dressing up implies that we are putting on a mask that eclipses our true identify. But often the things we desire to explore are actually innate parts of ourselves that are ready to emerge. We are drawn to people who exemplify the qualities we want to emulate. Sometimes we are even envious of them.

It is important to honor our own evolution by giving credence to our desire to grow and change and allowing those desires to guide us. They key to being authentic and true to ourselves is to listen to the beat of our own drummer rather than allowing the sheer force of our accumulated patterns, habits and the expectations of others determine our identity. Often the way we have behaved or expressed ourselves over the course of our lives is more a product of what we’ve always done than who we truly are.

So when the idea of trying something new, or exploring a different way of showing up in the world is appealing to you, indulge yourself and see what happens. Finding your own authentic expression is a matter of fine tuning. Try something and see how it feels. You can start by emulating what someone else has done. And then add your own twist. Let go of or tweak what doesn’t work and do more of what feels good to you.

This is what the most impactful of leaders have done throughout the course of history. They start by leading themselves – listening and indulging the desires of their hearts, believing in their ability to grow, evolve and achieve, and finding their own unique expression. And in so doing, they serve as leaders to the rest of us.

So don’t let the fantasy and fun of Halloween stop when October ends. Ask yourself what you’d most like to become and don’t be afraid to see where it takes you. In the words of George Eliot, “It is never too late to be what you could have been.”

If you are interested in more strategies for getting clarity on what you would most like to accomplish, create or become, as well as steps to help you close the gap between desire and reality, download my special report, Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead).






What to Do When You Just Can’t Get What You Want

 

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.

 

 

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

What is Your Personal and Professional Blueprint?

 

Have you ever driven by a construction site and wondered what was being built? 

You may have seen people working diligently, each focused on their own specific task.  Maybe there were steel girders, half constructed walls, and unidentifiable objects at various stages of completion.

Upon first glance, it likely appears chaotic and messy.

But amidst the sawdust and cement blocks, something pulls it all together.  Though we may not know exactly what the larger plan is, over time the construction starts to take shape and we begin to recognize a room here, and another there.  Soon we can start to surmise the purpose and function of each room.

As the walls are plastered and paint is applied, the appearance becomes neater.

And suddenly, it is completed in all its glory – a stunning compilation of raw materials, sweat, and focused action.

Perhaps we too build things in this way.  It is nice to know in advance exactly what we are building.  But at times things may feel chaotic, disconnected and random.  We have some experiences that uplift us and others that disappoint.  Often we are without an explanation of why certain events and experiences are taking place.

But maybe underneath it all, there is a larger plan at work.

One that will reveal itself over time.  As we undertake each new experience, another wall is constructed and a new room is being built.

What if we were willing to experience our lives with the same wonder and curiosity with which we look upon that building undergoing construction?  And what if we were able to engender that same enthusiasm and optimism in everyone around us?

Are you willing to entertain the thought that somewhere within you there is a perfect blueprint of everything your life and your leadership will bring about?

And can you delight in the mystery of its gradual unfolding?

 

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” 

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

Blueprint image by Pete  from Pixabay.

Construction image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Three Missing Links for Transforming Vision to Reality (and how to leverage them)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alignment with a Higher Purpose

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

Don’t push the river.

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

Passionate Detachment

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

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

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

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

Try practicing passionate detachment.

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

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

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Embodiment of Your Vision

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

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

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

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

Practice grateful certainty.

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

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

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

This process is just one of the many techniques taught in  The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Unique Genius.  Though the spring group session is now full, you can join the waiting list to be notified of the next session.

 

Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

Why What Got You Here May Not Get You There – and What to do Instead

Imagine that software you’ve relied on for years stops working for you.  You notice your computer has been freezing up a lot and you’ve been experiencing some glitches. At first, it didn’t really bother you. You just made do and went on. But now it’s happening so often that you’re having trouble getting things done.

When you look into the problem, you find you’re not the only one experiencing it. In fact, after receiving numerous user complaints, the company discovered its software was having incompatibilities. Much to your relief, a new version of the program is being rolled out that has fixed all the bugs. And happily, this updated program is now available for you to download.

The same thing happens to each of us. You’re cruising along doing what you’ve always done only to find it just isn’t working so well anymore. You aren’t getting the results you wanted. Or worse, what worked before is actually causing new problems. And despite your best efforts, these problems are throwing a big monkey wrench in things.

Take Shiela as an example.

Shiela is a high achieving executive who has always prided herself on her ability to be the “go to” person for solutions.  Her energy and enthusiasm led her to be sought out for plum projects and invited to serve on numerous committees and boards.  She happily took these things on and went the extra mile to deliver excellence in everything she did. And her career trajectory was headed ever upward.

But over time, the number of initiatives she was regularly involved in began to wear on her.  Her calendar was packed and she hit the ground running each day only to find that her to do list was growing faster than her ability to get things done.  She had multiple balls in the air and lived in constant fear that one of them would come crashing down at any moment.

Her solution was to double down on what helped her succeed in the past.  She worked more, slept less, and pushed herself beyond the limits of her own exhaustion.  And though she was working harder than ever, her performance began to suffer.  The work that once energized and inspired her was beginning to feel like an endless grind she just couldn’t rise above. And people began to notice.

Well-intentioned friends and colleagues gave her books and advice, and she did her best to try to institute new approaches, take better care of herself, delegate, prioritize, rely on systems and get support.  But when things got tense, she reverted to old patterns of behavior that were deeply ingrained.

Shiela’s old program was interfering with her new one.  And this interference was causing major glitches. But those glitches didn’t have to keep her from achieving her desired results. She just had to find the bug that was creating the havoc and take steps to eliminate it.

So how do you find a bug in your program?

Like Shiela, you start by recognizing that you aren’t getting the results you want. And then you work backward. Finding the bug in your program requires that you detach from your actions in such a way that you can observe and evaluate them.

One way to do this is to replay events in your mind to identify any causal factors. You can designate time at the end of the day to mentally review the day’s events and evaluate what went well and what didn’t. You can journal about it. Or you can talk with someone who is an objective third party, like a friend, family member, mentor or coach.

The bug in your program is almost always a knee jerk reaction.

When Shiela replayed her interactions with others, she realized that what she really wanted (and needed) to do when someone asked her to become involved in yet another project, committee or board was to ensure that it was the best fit and use of her time before responding.  But she also recognized that before her mental faculty was engaged, she had already pledged her sole support and involvement. And before she knew it, despite her best intentions, she had unwittingly pushed herself further into overwhelm.

She was reacting instead of responding.

Knee jerk reactions are the product of conditioning.

Conditioning is what happens when a behavior becomes so automatic that you no longer need to think about it. And conditioning is good when it leads you to behave in a way that is constructive — like when you practice a new skill over and over again until you can do it without having to remind yourself of each step.

But conditioning that leads you to spring into action when what you really need to do is give a little more consideration to your response can get you into trouble.

There is a neurobiological component to conditioning. Every time you practice something or respond to a stimulus in a certain way, you are creating neural networks in your brain. Neurons that fire together wire together. And the more they fire, the stronger and more automatic their connections (and your behaviors) get. Conversely, when a neural network is interrupted or not used for a certain period of time, these connections begin to weaken.

Once you have identified the bug, you can begin to eliminate it.

Simply being aware of a knee jerk reaction will begin to loosen its grip on you. When Sheila realized she had a tendency to override her true intention by launching into an old undesirable pattern before she even knew what was happening, she also became increasingly aware of the negative consequences that behavior created.

This is not to say that Sheila could instantaneously eradicate her bug and immediately improve her results. On the contrary, she grew increasingly frustrated because now she was not only engaging in problematic behavior — she was doing it even though she knew better. But this awareness is half the battle.

Initially, she didn’t recognize her oversights until after the fact, but with increased awareness and attention Sheila noticed them sooner and sooner. The time it took her to catch herself went from hours to minutes and with continued diligence, she was able to take steps to correct them in real-time. Ultimately, she got to the point where she could prevent herself from engaging in this automatic reaction altogether.

As the bug is eliminated, the program can be upgraded.

Upgrading the program is a matter of replacing an old behavior with a new one. Unlike software upgrades, this one isn’t a matter of a simple download. It requires attention, thought and persistence.

As mentioned previously, neural networks that correspond to old, undesirable patterns of behavior weaken when they are not engaged. And as they weaken, repeated practice allows new neural nets to be formed that support a more desirable behavior.

But doesn’t creating new neural networks require a huge amount of practice?

The interesting thing about the formation of these neural networks is that they do not have to happen in real-time. Research has shown that mentally rehearsing a new pattern of behavior leads to the same growth in neural networks that physical practice does.

As Sheila began mentally reviewing the way she handled herself in conversations, she reflected on what she would have liked to do differently. And then she replayed the scene in her mind with a new, more desirable ending. She continued to do this daily. As she did, she literally rewired her brain.

Doing so allowed her to create and increasingly rely on new neural networks in situations that necessitated a different response. Gradually she was able to replace her tendency to automatically take more and more on with a more thoughtful, respectful response that offered solutions without adding to her overload. She began to recognize opportunities to involve and empower others to do things that would allow them to grow and buy her much needed time to regroup and reengage in a more focused, less frenetic way.

And over time Sheila once again became known not only for getting results but for making a more strategic impact and growing talent within her organization.

Let’s review the process of upgrading your internal programming

• Step One: Find your bug. The first step is to recognize when you have a tendency to engage in behavior that keeps you from getting the results you desire. Most likely this will be a knee jerk reaction that propels you into action before you have a chance to think.

• Step Two: Disempower your bug. Becoming aware of behavior you fall into and the impact it has on your effectiveness ultimately weakens its hold on you because while it still may be automatic, it is no longer unconscious. Though falling into old patterns when you know better is frustrating, this awareness is a sign of tremendous progress.

• Step Three: Substitute a new program for the old one. As your old habits and the corresponding neural nets that lead you to engage in them begin to weaken, you can replace them with new behaviors. The more you practice these new behaviors (whether physically or mentally), the stronger the new neural networks and your new patterns will become. And the less you engage the old behaviors, the weaker and less prominent the old neural networks (and the corresponding behaviors) get.

If you find yourself engaging in behavior that is interfering with your effectiveness, the most important thing to remember is that you are not the program that is running it. You are the programmer. You have the ability to consciously choose the behaviors and the responses you have to any given stimulus.

Though interrupting and upgrading your internal programming takes time, the results will be well worth your effort. And the best part is that you don’t have to lodge a complaint with or rely on anyone but yourself in order to do it.

 

If you’d like some support in recognizing and overcoming bugs in your programming, consider joining me in the Spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed – The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius. A few seats remain for this exclusive 13-week leadership development program, which kicks off on March 3.  If you have questions or would like to chat about whether the program is a fit for you, you can schedule a call directly with me.

Here’s what a previous participant had to say…

“My professional goals were not going the way that I wanted them to and I had a suspicion that I was pounding my head against the wall trying the same tools or switching the tools differently and I just needed a fresh perspective on them. I enrolled in the Freedom & Flow program after receiving encouragement from people who work with Diane who raved about their interactions with her and how impactful she’s been in their life.

One of the things that this course helped me realize is that I always believed the tools that made me successful early in my life and my career would be the same tools that would see me through to the end. The truth is that my toolbox needed more tools, or different tools in it.

This is important for folks that would be thinking about this program, and it was revolutionary for me – what worked for me early in my career isn’t going to work all the time, I can’t say that enough. You need to reexamine. You can’t have the same script for your whole professional career, you just can’t. You have to adjust the script. I’m in leadership positions versus before, I was a follower. I was trying to get somewhere. Now I’m somewhere and it’s different.

I’ve taken a lot of leadership courses. They’re usually big group settings. This is a smaller more intimate group. The one on one calls are terrific and super helpful. Diane is energetic, vibrant, engaged, open-minded, and thoughtful. Her program has helped me better influence and connect to others, decrease my stress, and get much more done. I’m more mindful and have replaced old, ineffective tools with new ones – it feels great, it’s really refreshing.

My message to folks who are considering this course is pretty simple: you will learn new skills, new tools that you haven’t used before which are going to help move you forward. The program is awesome, and I highly recommend it.”

Dr. Tony Sciscione, Director, Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Christiana Care Health System

 

 

How to Find that Peaceful, Easy Feeling (even amidst stress, overwhelm and uncertainty)

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit with a relative who was having an echo cardiogram – which is essentially an ultrasound of the heart.  It was an awe-inspiring experience.

We’re obviously all familiar with the fact that we have hearts.  And that they beat.  And that without them, we wouldn’t be alive.

But I realized that in many ways, we (or at least I) have become all TOO familiar with that fact.  So familiar that it’s easy to forget about it altogether – and completely take it for granted.

There was something about seeing that image of a real human heart – beating steadily and with such incredible precision – that simply took my breath away.

It may sound silly, but I couldn’t help but muse over the fact that the vast majority of us don’t have to be plugged into anything or pack pre-charged batteries into our bodies for our hearts to continue doing what they do.  We don’t need to set reminders, or worry about getting it right, or rely on anyone, or do anything at all for that matter.

A few days later I found myself sitting in one of my favorite places, next to a little creek under a canopy of sprawling eucalyptus trees that lines one of the streets in my neighborhood.  It’s a place that I can lose myself in entirely, so full of beauty and peace that if I sit there long enough, I can feel the stress dissolve like little beads of water that evaporate in the sun.

A moment later, a car came screeching down the road – very likely exceeding the 25 MPH speed limit by double or more.  My peace and ease were shattered for a moment, as I felt the anger bubble up within my body.  I watched as my quiet mind was barraged by thoughts of frustration and resentment, conjuring all kinds of unpleasant scenarios at the danger that was created for kids riding their bikes or people walking their dogs.

And then I turned my gaze once again, from the street to the little creek with the light dancing upon the water and the graceful, willowing branches of leaves fluttering in the breeze above it.  I took a deep breath, and in that moment I realized three things…

(1) I could choose which sensation I wanted to experience by deciding which thought I would give my attention to. The feelings of peace and contentment were still available to me – I just had to be willing to release the sudden attachment I felt to anger and hostility.

(2) The decision I would make in that moment would impact the trajectory of the rest of my day. Giving in to my irritation would not only keep me from enjoying a peaceful, easy feeling; it would also keep me from sharing it with others and using it to navigate gracefully through whatever challenges and opportunities awaited me.

(3) The beauty and bliss and peace I was previously experiencing, like my heartbeat, is always available to me – to all of us. I am just not always aware of it.  And sometimes I unwittingly choose to put my attention on things that completely eclipse my awareness of it altogether.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Despite the changing times we live in, the little (and big) disturbances we often have to deal with, and the frustrations and challenges that threaten our peace, we all have some things that are constant in our lives – that when appreciated allow us to feel truly blessed, loved and cared for.

As the holidays grow nearer, and we prepare to gather and break bread with people who are special to us, it does us all well to pause and appreciate with wonder and awe the things in our lives that we don’t often stop to think all that much about.

Here’s to the beauty that surrounds us, the love that is always available, and the uncompromising glory of our magnificent beating hearts.

 

 

Do You Suffer the Curse of Competence? How to Keep it from Stealing Your Success.

Many of us are on the verge of entering new, unchartered territory.

Some are having to do that by necessity, as a result of changing circumstances.  Others are recognizing – and answering – the call to step out and try something we’ve never done before.

Either way, it isn’t easy.  Especially if you are accustomed to (and pride yourself on) being able to do something really well.

Anytime you try something new or different, you will encounter resistance.

To assist you through these vital transitions – and to help you overcome what I call “the curse of competence”, I wanted to share something with you that I teach in my 13 week Pinocchio Principle Unleashed program.

It’s an excerpt from a video on embracing uncertainty and redefining failure.  In less than 6 minutes, you’ll gain a whole new perspective that’ll help you move beyond your greatest resistance to create and enjoy the success you are truly capable of.

 

Interested in enrolling in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed?  Join the waiting list to be the first to hear when registration is open

What Can Pinocchio Teach You About Navigating Change and Unleashing Your Genius?

 

As I’ve written in recent posts, change is coming at us right now both from the outside in and the inside out.

And change is naturally somewhat disconcerting.

But it can also be liberating and empowering – if you use it as a doorway to rediscover you who really are at your core – to unleash your GENIUS.

When you access your Genius, you’ll not only unlock your highest levels of performance and advance your career, you’ll also enjoy more freedom and fulfillment both on and off the job.

The Pinocchio Principle: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, my 13 week signature program, is designed to help high achieving executives do just that.  The fall session is kicking off on Wednesday, September 30.

I believe it’s more timely now than ever.  I filmed a short (5 min) video to tell you why…

You can find all the details about the program here: The Pinocchio Principle: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius. If you have questions or just want to chat about it, you can also schedule a call with me.

But don’t wait long!  The fall session will start on Wednesday, September 30 and I intentionally limit enrollment to a small, intimate size so that each person can have the highest level of support and personalized attention.

Here’s to your Genius!

“I shared before that your program was life changing, but I wanted you to know that is even more true now. I was going through some of my session notes and I had written down some of the characteristics when you are operating in your genius, which I wrote down – trust, faith and curiosity. In a time when it would be so easy to be in fear, judgement and anxiety, I have operated in my genius during this time more than ever before at any point in my life. I have you to thank for that and I am truly grateful. Thank you!”

Porsha M. Caddell, Sr. Manager, Customer Service Business Planning, Southern California Edison

 

 

 

5 Phases of Transformation – and How to Navigate Them

 

We’re all working through our share of change – change that comes to us from the outside in.

But there’s another kind of change that happens from the inside out.

And that feels a little different. It usually comes on gradually – so gradually you may not even notice it at first.

In the video below, I’ll share the five phases of transformation that I’ve observed in my own life as well as the lives of executives I’ve coached over the years. You’ll learn what you can expect in each phase – and I’ll give you some tips for making the most of it, so you can move through it with ease and grace.

Change – even the kind that comes from the inside out – can be unsettling and anxiety producing. But it is a doorway that leads us to some of the greatest gifts life has to offer.

If you’d like some support and guidance navigating through your own transformation, I encourage you to consider joining me and a small group of fellow leaders in the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed – The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius kicking off on Wednesday, 9/30.

I’ll be personally guiding an intimate group of executives through this process over the next thirteen weeks utilizing a powerful blend of online training, small group mastermind meetings and one-on-one coaching support. Space is limited and there are a few seats remaining.

If you have questions or want to chat about the program, feel free to set up a call.