Category Archives: Guidance

Why Your Setbacks May Actually Be Springboards – and How to Leverage them as a Leader

 

Have you ever had one of those days/weeks/months where it felt like one darn thing after another?

man voiding pitfalls of positive thinkingIt has been said that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

But these ideas enter into us long before they are ready to be brought into the world. They prepare us, transform us, and lead us through a myriad of experiences that allow us to develop what we need in order to manifest them.

These experiences are not always pleasant.

We suffer disappointments, setbacks, frustrations. During times like these it is easy to feel as though life would be just fine as soon as these turbulences subside. But what if these little disturbances are the very things we need in order to breathe life into these visions that lie within us?

How many of the world’s greatest healers once experienced some kind of malady that they needed to overcome on their own before they had what it took to help others through the same challenge? How many people transcended their suffering by finding meaning in it and then went on to help others do the same? How many leaders rose to great heights charged with a mission of improving an organization or a community after having experienced something that needed to be changed?

What does this suggest for you?

If your journey as a leader will require you to exercise courage, you may find yourself in several situations that scare the hell out of you. If it requires you to show compassion, you may find yourself in situations where you must learn to transform your anger into something more constructive.

You will continue to draw to yourself the experiences you need to develop what is required to bring your vision into the world. The blessing and the curse in all of this is that those experiences will continue to present themselves until you finally learn the things you need to learn.

We learn best through action.

Early in my career as an instructor and developer of courses and workshops, I realized that an effective learning experience required a balance of lecture and discussion with some kind of experiential activity that would allow participants to translate into action what they just learned in theory. Life has a beautiful way of doing this for us.

The funny thing is that in the classroom no one ever much seemed to enjoy breaking into pairs and triads and having to practice something they were not very good at yet, and the same thing seems to be true when those experiences present themselves in our daily lives.

But life doesn’t give up on us.

If it doesn’t go so well with one person or situation, we get another to practice on. And it doesn’t even matter so much how well we do with these challenges, as long as we show up and do what’s in front of us. We will continue to be given opportunities to choose different responses, learn from them and adapt our behavior once again.

Think about anything you ever had to learn.

You began at the beginning. You started with the easy stuff. Then when you became stronger and more capable, you went onto a more advanced level, where the challenges were tougher and you had to apply greater skill, muscle and intellect. You emerged from each of these lessons with something you didn’t have before. And you couldn’t have acquired it through any other route than your own experience.

Low and behold – there is order in chaos.

As I began coaching executives several years ago, the emphasis in my work shifted from trying to impart a lesson to helping people learn from their own experiences and see the perfect order in which things are unfolding in their personal and professional lives to help them get where they truly want to go.

The pertinent thing was no longer to give people answers, but rather to help them find their own and to recognize they already possess everything they need to get them through whatever challenge is before them. And this is something each of us can do as leaders to help those around us on their own journeys as well.

What is life trying to teach you or prepare you for right now?  

And how can you seize these opportunities in front of you to bring out your very best so that you can help someone else do the same?

“The future enters into us in order to transform us, long before it happens.” – Rainer Maria Wilke

For more on how to embrace life’s toughest lessons and come out on top, consider enrolling 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 Thursday 4/21.  This thirteen-week leadership development program helps high achieving leaders leverage their past experiences to create a brilliant future – for themselves and those they lead.  A few spots remain.  To inquire and/or register, schedule a brief call directly with me to determine if the program is the best fit for you.

 

Does Your Work Life Need Resuscitating?

frustrated man feels the need for a vacation to replenish

I have always been amazed by the number of people who think of work as a necessary evil — simply what must be done to earn a paycheck. For so many who toil through their workday, the primary goal is to make it to the weekend so they can really live.

Going through the motions, working day after day with others whose hearts and minds they seldom truly connect with, they withhold the very parts of themselves that make them come alive.

For some it wasn’t always this way. Many began their careers ignited with passion and optimism, only to find that their flames began to flicker as they encountered obstacle after obstacle that kept them from achieving what they believed would be success.

Succumbing to the unwritten rules of the organizations and other environments they found themselves in, which suggested they needed to act or think in a certain way to get ahead, they may have slowly sold out on their dreams and relegated themselves to quiet complacency.

Many of us were not brought up to expect that work would be fun or gratifying in any way – nor should it be. That’s why they call it work, you may have been told. As a result, you may have never really expected much from your career or professional life. And as the saying goes, life has a way of living up to your expectations.

Most of us have learned how to turn ourselves on and off at will, in an effort to spare ourselves the pain of disappointment or frustration — or to maintain what we have come to believe is a professional demeanor. It is not uncommon to hear people say that they are very different at work than they are at home.

Those golden parts of yourself that you think you are protecting suffer when you don’t let them breathe and interact in the very realms that allow you to learn who you are and what you are here to do in the world.

You miss the chance to become a part of something greater than yourself. And the organizations and communities you are a part of miss out on the unique contribution you have the potential to make.

You can no longer afford to fragment yourself in this way, denying the fulfillment of your secret dreams and talents and downplaying the insights you have about what you can do to make life better — for yourself, and everyone around you.

As more and more of us feel the pain that accompanies the denial of our spirits, we have begun to realize that the time has come for us to bring the totality of who we are to what we do, no matter our vocation, title or role.

There are people among us who have the ability to snap us out of our trances — our states of quiet desperation — and help us bring more of who we truly are to everything that we do.

They can do this for others because they have done it for themselves. They are called “real leaders”. And they exist at all levels of organizations, regardless of their titles or roles.

Real Leaders inspire others to perform at their very best,

because they themselves are inspired.

When was the last time you felt inspired in your work? When was the last time you had passion for your career? What is it that allows you to feel a sense of wonder and contribution to something bigger?

If you have lost touch with that, do yourself and everyone around you a favor and take some time to reconnect with it. You have something deep inside that you are uniquely qualified and put on this earth to create or do.

When you were young, the energy of your dreams likely propelled you along your path — sometimes blindly, but it gets you off your duff and into action.

You’ve likely experienced hardships along the way and it may have felt at times as though you were failing again and again. Life throws you curve balls and you can find yourself feeling beaten down and doing what you can to just get by, running from one crisis to another and sometimes going in circles.

At some point, you will be tempted to check out and take an easier path – one that allows you to go numb and somewhat unconscious. It may work for a while, but over time you’ll begin to feel the misery that comes along with abandoning your dreams and letting your passion take the back seat.

What would it take for you to get excited about what you are doing right now? What is the bigger why of the work you do every day?  Who does it serve, and how?

If you can’t answer that question, do some digging. When you can connect those dots to a bigger picture, you may find that what you thought was insignificant is quite meaningful – and a vital piece of a larger puzzle you are meant to help assemble.

As you recognize your part and the value you provide, perhaps you’ll be inspired to bring a little more of who you are to what you do by playing more fully, being more present, and connecting more deeply with those who rely on you.

Your passion is like a hidden well with unlimited reservestapping that well will allow it to grow exponentially. And as you unleash it in your work, you will draw out something extraordinary in every human being that comes into contact with it. That is the essence of real leadership.

We are beginning to awaken to our unique calls to service, creativity and innovation. As you find ways to unleash your distinctive talents and passions at work, you will significantly increase the quality of your own life, as well as the lives of everyone around you.

If you are interested in learning more about how to revitalize your life – both on and off the job, I encourage you to consider enrolling for the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, kicking off the week of April 18th.

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.

Enrollment is now open and will be limited to 9 people. To ensure the very best group dynamics, participants are hand selected after talking with Diane in a brief chemistry call to determine if the program is the right fit.  If you are interested in enrolling, click here to schedule your chemistry call.






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 pets, 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 has been 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, presence and vitality (and learning how to help others do it too), 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.  

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 April and go through early June. Registration has opened for those on the waiting list and will soon be available to a wider audience.  Enrollment is limited to 9 people.  To ensure the very best group dynamics, I now personally select participants after talking with them in a brief (20-30 minute) chemistry call to determine whether the program is the right fit.

If you are interested in joining the spring session, you can click here to schedule your chemistry call.

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 wrote 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 spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius. This exclusive 13-week leadership development experience goes beneath the surface of what most programs deliver, to help you learn to unleash genius in yourself and those you lead.

The program will kick off in late April and go through mid-July. Enrollment will be limited to eight participants.  Join the waiting list to have access to registration before it opens to the public.



Why Believing Is Seeing – Regardless Of Proof

Diane Bolden | Why Believing is Seeing Regardless of Proof

One day when my kids were younger, they had a play date with some friends. I heard one of them telling the other that Santa Claus wasn’t real. My son, who was eight years old at the time, vehemently defended the jolly old man, with elaborate explanations of why something not easily proven was worth believing in anyway.

It reminded me of my own childhood.

I had to laugh, as I flashed back to one of my own experiences with a little girl in my neighborhood who made fun of me for believing that a fat man in a red coat actually came down my chimney every year. I was so mad that, when she wasn’t looking, I broke all her crayons and put them back in the box (and spent the rest of the holiday season worrying that I had just put myself on the naughty list).

I have since learned that it is okay if everyone doesn’t believe what I do.

And if he hasn’t already, my son will learn that too. But he is the one who taught me something that day. I was buoyed by his unwavering belief and faith in something he’s never really seen and inspired by his example.

I can’t help but believe that those who trust in something magical will experience that magic in ways the skeptics will not. And I think the same is true in life.

There will always be someone around to tell us what cannot be done.

And there will also always be people who, upon being so told, will do it anyway. Their faith, determination, and belief in something they have yet to see will allow them to persevere until their dreams become reality.

One of my favorite authors on personal and spiritual growth, Alan Cohen, once said “You do not need to get others to believe in your truth. You just need to live it.”

Trust, faith, and perseverance go a long way.

In a world where much is uncertain and the old success formulas no longer seem to work, I believe it is more important than ever to trust in what we know to be true in our hearts, even if our minds cannot figure it all out. It may go against what we have been conditioned to believe, see, and do – but perhaps this makes it even more important.

To bust out of old paradigms that keep us from realizing our greatness, perhaps we need to stop questioning what is possible and start challenging our limits instead. As we do, we will begin to make manifest that which we previously only dreamed was possible and, through our example, show others the way to rise.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a bright blessed New Year!

 

If you want to enjoy more meaning and fulfillment along with stellar results all year round (both at work and at home),  The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed:  The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius can help you achieve it.

This exclusive 13-week leadership development experience goes beneath the surface of what most programs deliver, to help you learn to unleash genius in yourself and those you lead.

The Spring 2022 session will kick off in April.  Enrollment will be limited to eight participants.  Join the waiting list to have access to registration before it opens to the public.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful and blessed holiday!

 

 

 

 

 

How to Create Moments of Meaning (Even in the Midst of Mania)

Diane Bolden - Executive Leadership Development Coach in Phoenix, Arizona.

“You ready for the holidays?”

It’s a question people often ask each other this time of year. I don’t know if I’m ever ready – from the standpoint of having all the boxes checked, anyway.

I know there are people out there – you may be one of them – who finished their holiday shopping weeks ago, had their houses beautifully decorated on or before Thanksgiving day, and seem to find the time to send handmade cards to everyone they know. I have secretly dreamt of being one of those people, and maybe someday I will be.

I tend to identify more with those still scurrying around at the last minute. You know, the ones dashing to the mall on Christmas eve for that one last present they forgot about and return home to feverishly wrap gifts before people come over – all the while swearing that next year will be different.

What I really long for is to simply enjoy every aspect of the holidays.

It is a season of giving, sharing, and celebrating something bigger than ourselves. It brings us together and transforms our everyday lives into something sacred.

And this opportunity is always available to us.

With every gift we buy or wrap, every card we send, or every decoration we hang, we have the ability to infuse it with presence – our ability to be truly engaged not only with whatever it is we are doing, but with the bigger reason of WHY we are doing it – even if we get a late start.

Perhaps the ideal is not in being able to do more things sooner, but to put more of ourselves into the things we are able to do now despite whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

When people pour their hearts into whatever they are doing, you can feel it. 

The cards that arrive in our mailbox that have been perfunctorily generated don’t seem to move us as much as those people have taken the time to hand write something on – even if it is just our name. Likewise, the gifts that had some element of thought in them often end up meaning more to us than those someone spent a lot of money on. The true spirit of giving is more about the spirit than the gift itself.

And the spirit of giving and celebration doesn’t have to end in December.

We have the ability to enrich every moment of our lives with it. Albert Camus once said, “Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” That means forgetting about all our preoccupations and busyness and being right here, right now – truly engaged in the purpose of whatever it is we are doing and deeply connected to whoever we are with.

In business and in life, this practice separates the most truly prosperous and successful people from all the rest. They have a knack for making others feel valued and for infusing meaning into whatever it is they do or invite others to do. They spend their time doing what is most important and pour their hearts and souls into it. As a result, they are living examples of whatever they believe most strongly in.

Perhaps this is the true art of giving, living, and leading – one that transcends holidays and spills over into our everyday lives.

And maybe it’s never too late to start.

If you want to enjoy more meaning and fulfillment along with stellar results all year round (both at work and at home),  The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed:  The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius can help you achieve it.

This exclusive 13-week leadership development experience goes beneath the surface of what most programs deliver, to help you learn to unleash genius in yourself and those you lead.

The Spring 2022 session will kick off in March.  Enrollment will be limited to eight participants.  Join the waiting list to have access to registration before it opens to the public.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful and blessed holiday season!

 

 

 

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