Category Archives: Navigating Through Change, Challenge & Uncertainty

Lightening Your Load: Mind Over Matter

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

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

You may think that the way you feel is a result of your experiences, and that is true — the more you have to do, the more overwhelmed you will feel.  But the reverse also applies — the more overwhelmed you feel, the more you are likely to approach things in a way that draws them out — perhaps by procrastinating, making things more complicated than they need to be, or using more energy to resist and worry than it would take to actually get things done.  If we become fixated on evidence that suggests we can never rise above the way we are feeling, we trap ourselves in vicious circles where we will continue to see that which we long to rise above and feel the frustration of not being able to break free.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for a better way to lighten your load?

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

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


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

 

Has work become a bit of a grind?

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

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

(1) Personally

(2) Professionally, and

(3) Organizationally

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

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

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

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

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

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

Productivity

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

Creativity and Problem Solving

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

Influence

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

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

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

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

Employee engagement

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

The cost of complacency

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

What does that have to do with you?

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

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

In summary

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

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

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

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

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

But that’s a subject for another article…

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

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

Centered in Conflict

 

flat shaped rocks stacked on top of each other representing being centered in conflict When was the last time someone caught you off guard with a piece of feedback or a message that felt like an attack?  How did you respond?

If it took you by surprise, chances are for a moment you may have lost your balance, moving  either away from the bearer of the message, or toward him or her (literally or figuratively).  If you leaned away, in an effort to avoid conflict or to crawl inside your comfort zone, you may have withheld your point of view or any response for that matter.  If you leaned forward, you may have thrust your point of view upon the other in a way that was more like a counter attack than a response.  Or perhaps you accommodated and sacrificed your own needs in order to maintain harmony.  Either way, you fell away from your center – your true place of power.

What does this mean?  If I am too attached to my own point of view, I am likely to force it on others and become rigid to anything that doesn’t seem to fit with it.  When I am stiff and lean too far forward, I am easily knocked over.  On the other hand, if I forget what I know and allow others to dictate what I believe, I will lose my footing and become easily manipulated.

But if I can get to a place of curiosity, where I can really listen to what someone else is saying and be willing to test my own assumptions without automatically believing they are absolute, I will be relaxed, agile, and strong.  When I am pushed, I will absorb the shock by allowing myself to be temporarily moved, and then come back to center – my place of strength.  I can integrate what others are saying, broaden my perspective, and allow myself to grow stronger as a result.  From this place of strength I will engage in communication that is far more productive.

Most of us will be knocked off balance periodically.  We may find ourselves swaying from one direction to the other.  But each time it happens, we can practice coming back to center – being willing to let go, relax, listen, and adjust accordingly.  In doing so, we will learn and grow.  We will transform ourselves and set powerful examples for others.  And in so doing, we will truly lead.

 

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

~ Michael McGriffy, MD

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

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

How to Get What You Really Want

 

DianeBolden_FB_06.06.17“What do you really want?”

I ask my clients and myself this question. We answer:

  • I want things to go my way.
  • I want to come out on top.
  • I more wins and fewer losses.
  • I want my problems to disappear.
  • I want to be profitable.
  • I want to be successful.
  • I want to be respected.

All understandable, relatable.

But the follow-up question is just as important.

“What would that give you?”

This one stumps people. But the answer is usually something about getting peace of mind, satisfaction, happiness and a feeling that all is as it should be in the world.

What if you could have that now?

Sign you up, right?

It starts by recognizing that that the quality of your day – the feeling of getting what you want – is a direct reflection of your thoughts.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

You are about to go into a high-pressure meeting.

You know what you need to do to come out on top. Of course, you want to win, you want to be respected and your agenda dictates that the meeting must unfold in a certain way. Already your mind has created a definition of winning, of GETTING WHAT YOU WANT, that involves you playing your part and others in the meeting playing the part you have imagined for them.

If things don’t go exactly the way you envision, you are disappointed.

You may feel disrespected. If they do go your way, and someone else loses in the process because they must bow to your agenda, then the victory of that win is likely to fade quickly, leading you to seek another win.

What if you go into that same high-pressure meeting with a different mindset?

A mindset that views the meeting through the lens of all parties winning – even if the way to do that was not part of your original agenda? Go into the meeting seeking the best solution for everyone and watch what happens.

Up leveling your mindset allows you to see new possibilities and get better results.

Your mind will begin to entertain the thought that there could actually be a solution in which everyone wins. As a result, you will listen more intently. You will ask different questions. You will be more genuinely interested in what others have to say, because they are an important part of your solution. You will show respect others, and in so doing receive respect.

If you hold the intention of a meeting that everyone walks away from feeling better than when it started, you’ll go into that meeting with a quiet confidence, faith, trust and patience. You’ll take comfort in the wisdom of the group. You’ll start to find you are NOW getting what you want.

It sounds too easy.

Magical even. It’s no wonder since we’re conditioned to believe that we have to do something to get what we want, whether that’s money, respect or peace.

Let’s start again.

Think about whatever your mind if most occupied with and ask the question, What do I really want?

And then, what would that give me?

Take those questions to a higher level, one in which everyone involved benefits in some way.

Feel the ultimate end state as though it has already happened, even though you have no idea how it will happen. Can you rest in the certainty that things will happen in everyone’s best interest?

Let it flow.

Then as you go about your day or face this situation, let your actions flow from the state of mind you wish to achieve. Over time, you’ll realize that instead of having to see it to believe it, what you see will be a direct reflection of what you believe. Allow yourself to believe in the highest possible good for everyone, let go of how it will happen and watch miracles unfold in your life and those of everyone around you.

You won’t have to do anything to achieve that peace of mind, satisfaction and a feeling that all is as it should be because you already possess it.

This process is just one of the many techniques taught in The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius to help you get the results you want with less stress and greater fulfillment. This exclusive 13-week leadership development program kicks off the week of April 1st and is limited to the first 25 people who enroll. Reserve your spot today!

How to Up Level Your Game by Upgrading Your Internal Programming

Executive Leadership Coach Diane Bolden of Phoenix Arizona.

 

Imagine that software you’ve relied on for years stops working for you.

You notice that it has been freezing up a lot. At first, it didn’t really bother you. But now these little glitches are happening so often that you’re having trouble getting things done.

When you look into the problem, you find you are not the only one that has been experiencing it. 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. 

We are cruising along doing what we’ve always done only to find it just isn’t working so well anymore. We aren’t getting the results we wanted. Or worse, what worked before is actually causing new problems. And despite our best efforts, these problems are throwing a big monkey wrench in things.

So how do you find a bug in your program?

First, 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 do this in the car on the way home from work as you 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.

Knee jerk reactions are the product of conditioning—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. This is not to say that someone could instantaneously eradicate a bug and immediately improve his or her results. It takes time. Awareness is half the battle.

Initially, errors are not caught until after the fact, but with increased awareness and attention, you can notice them sooner and sooner. The time it takes to realize blunders drops from hours to minutes, and, with continued diligence, you’re able to take steps to correct them in real time. Ultimately, you can get to the point where you can prevent yourself 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 doesn’t 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.

Really. If you replay the situation you wish you could have handled differently and “edit” your action to the desirable choice, you are literally rewiring your brain to act the correct way in the future.

Doing so will allow you to create and increasingly rely on new neural networks when in situations that necessitated different responses. Gradually, you are able to replace your tendency to demand compliance with a more thoughtful, respectful, and engaging approach to influencing others.

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.

Now if only we could keep those darn devices from freezing up!

If you are interested in additional strategies for upgrading your internal programming so that you can access your very best performance, I encourage you to check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius an exclusive 13-week leadership development program kicking off the week of April 1st.

Living the Dream

different size white ladders with the tallest ladder leading to a red and white bullseye target the represents living the dream

NOTE FROM DIANE…

Last week I did a Facebook Live video on how to overcome the three biggest obstacles to achieving your intentions, visions and goals.  The below article elaborates on some of the points I made in that video.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the Facebook Live, I encourage you to check it out.  It’s only my second one – something I’ve been inspired to do as a way of fulfilling my own personal vision for 2019.

Stay tuned (or subscribe) for more, and scroll to the end of this message for a time sensitive opportunity to work directly with me in an exclusive program that will kick off in April.  Now for today’s article…

What do you find easier – dreaming big, or finding a way to make those dreams come true? 

Most of us have more difficulty with the latter.  If you don’t, you may not be dreaming big enough.  I remember a time when one of my clients and I were musing about what makes realizing those dreams and visions so difficult.  We felt that the toughest part is connecting the vision to reality: Identifying and executing the steps that must be taken to get from here to there.

FROM VISION TO REALITY…

For years, I was convinced that having a vision and goals meant perceiving a clear and specific picture of what was to come and creating a plan that would ensure that certain milestones were met at designated intervals.  I was taught that goals had to be specific, measurable, and time bound (and have spent a good part of my career teaching others the same).  I would spend a significant amount of time wordsmithing these goals and creating something similar to a detailed project plan as though I could bend reality to my will.   And then life would happen and I’d get exceedingly frustrated when things didn’t fall into place the way I had planned.

The part of us that wants to identify a course of action that mitigates risk and controls all the variables is akin to a manager, whose responsibility is to plan, direct, organize, and control.  The challenge is that preconceived ideas of what must be and all that has to happen to bring it to fruition can never take into account all the unexpected twists and turns that each day throws at us.  So, the manager in each of us needs to take its orders from a higher authority.

FOLLOW YOUR HIGHER AUTHORITY

This higher authority is our inner leader.  The leader lives in the present, takes its cues from its inner and outer environment, and speaks to the hearts as well as the heads of its people.  It is often that part of us that rises up and recognizes when we must make a change in course in order to realize our greater visions.  It blends concrete data with intuitive hunches and moves much more fluidly.

The manager in each of us often wants to fix things and tends to place more attention on what is wrong than what is right.  It is so concerned with problems that it has a way of identifying with them and unwittingly propagating them.  The manager would have us set goals about the behaviors we want to stop, and the things about ourselves that aren’t good enough.

These goals almost always fail because they lead us to identify with the very state we wish to rise above.  We enter into them from a state of lack, and though our behaviors may temporarily change in accordance with detailed plans we have outlined for ourselves, our thoughts about who we are and what’s wrong keep us tethered and ultimately lead us to act in ways that reinforce old habits and patterns.

MOVE INTO POSSIBILITY AND POTENTIAL

The leader focuses on possibilities and speaks to that part of ourselves and others that has the capability and potential to achieve it.  It sees through the eyes of someone who has already realized their goals and visions rather than identifying with the experience of not having been able to do something in the past.  The leader in each of us knows that action follows thought and invests time in identifying limiting beliefs and trading them for something more empowering.  Rather than moving away from an undesirable place, it focuses on moving toward that which it desires to create.

With the leader in charge, the manager’s willfulness is balanced with willingness – willingness to change and adapt even the best laid plans, to reach higher, and to trust that something greater than ourselves will help us get where we most need to go.

Interested in more on how to bridge the gap between vision and reality and follow the cues of your inner leader?  The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Unleashing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius is coming soon!  Registration will be limited to 25 people, and I’m in the process of hand selecting participants.  If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation call to see if you (and/or others from your organization) are a good fit, contact support@DianeBolden.com.

Let Go and Lead

 

two fists in the air breaking free from the chains to let go and leadOne day I had the opportunity to listen to Marshall Goldsmith, one of America’s finest executive coaches speak.  Though the man has a number of incredibly insightful things to say on any given moment, one thing he said that day made an impact on me that I still feel years later.  The audience was eager to benefit from his wisdom.  He took the stage and paused a moment before speaking.  Then he told us to hold onto our seats while he told us something we probably didn’t want to hear.

“Those ‘to do’ lists you are carrying around – your inboxes and piles of papers – all those thing you seek to get to the bottom of,” he said.  “You need to realize right now THAT YOU WILL NEVER EVER FINISH THEM ALL.”

I remember my heart sinking when I heard that news, though I knew in my soul what he was saying was true.  He went on to explain that once we grasp this little piece of knowledge we will be so much more productive, effective and creative.

His wise words echo in my mind when I feel I have become a slave to my productivity principles.  How many times did you feel that everything had to be in its place before you could really move forward – start on that project you have been putting off, write that book, return those calls, launch that campaign?  And how many times did you allow your need for perfection to keep you from acting at all?

Now, don’t get me wrong – I do believe order is important.  But it must be in service to our larger purposes, not a substitute for them.  Perhaps there is wisdom in a bit of chaos.  Maybe if we weren’t so preoccupied about planning out every little detail and needing to feel “in control” of it all, we could let go and allow our inner knowing to cut through the piles and tell us exactly what we need to focus on in each moment, whether that be a project or a person.  Perhaps there is inspiration just waiting for us to create enough space for it to get through.  We cannot do this by becoming busier, hunkering down and trying harder to do that which may not even need to be done at all.

The inspiring, confident, courageous voice of a leader often starts as a small still voice that competes for our attention among all the other things we think we need to be doing.  How will you quiet yourself for a few moments today to hear what it is telling you?

“It is always amazing how many of the things we do will never be missed. And nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”

~ Peter F. Drucker

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Why I’m Done with Perfection

 

Have you ever played a game that you just couldn’t walk away from even though it nearly drove you to the brink of madness?  Well, mine was the game of PERFECTION.  The video above explains what we all have to lose by playing it.  At the end of the transcript below are links to other resources for overcoming perfection.

Here’s what I said in the video:

This game used to be my one of my favorite games as a kid.  It’s called Perfection.  You have sixty seconds to find the places where each of these little shapes stick into this game before the tray pops and everything flies in every different direction.  And I used to LOVE this game as a kid.  I would play it over and over and over.  Even though every time that darn tray popped it would scare the crap out of me, I kept playing it.

The funny thing is, even after I outgrew this game, I was playing my own perfection game.  It was “check the box.” Every box had to be checked before I could feel like I had done anything of value.  The irony is, half the boxes I was trying to check were things that didn’t really need to get done at all.  And not only was I trying to check the box, I was trying to get everything done perfectly — only to come to the end of the day or the end of the week when the tray would pop and everything would fly in every different direction and I wasn’t getting anything done.

I was playing this stupid perfection game, which you may have wondered, “What the heck is she doing?”  when you saw me.  “Doesn’t she have something more important to spend her time on?  Maybe she has a little TOO much time on her hands.”  YEAH.  That’s what happens when you do perfection.  You never do anything of any significance.  You scare the crap out of yourself because you can never reach that ideal that you’ve been killing yourself for.  And you are terrified of the chaos because you have no idea how to navigate through it.  You have been so busy trying to get all the pieces in their little places before things break out that you never do anything that’s really important.  AND you also never ENJOY anything that you are doing while you are doing it because you are so wrapped up in trying to get it perfect.

When I was playing the game of perfection, I never dreamt about the things that I could achieve.  I had trouble staying in the moment.  And I was always behind — always feeling like things were churning in my head.  Even after work I would be thinking about all the things I needed to do the next day, until the tray would pop and I would terrify myself again and again.  And you know what?  I’m done with this game.  I don’t even want my kids playing this game.  It’s going in the trash.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Expanding Your Universe

I recall a day, years ago, when I went to go pick up my youngest son from his friend’s house.  As we were leaving, I mindlessly threw the car into reverse, took a quick glance behind me to make sure no one was walking there, and stepped on the gas.  While the car lurched backward, I was jabbering away to my son about all the things we needed to get done that day when suddenly the car came to an abrupt stop, accompanied by the sound of crunching metal.

What I failed to take in with my cursory glance was the fact that another car was parked directly across the street from the driveway that I was backing out of.  And since it didn’t register, I neglected to turn the wheel at the angle that would have allowed me to avoid the collision we had just experienced.  I felt a flame of frustration mixed with anger flare up inside of me.  “Why did this have to happen?  Why couldn’t I have just slowed down long enough to realize there was a car behind me? And why the he*! would anyone park directly behind someone else’s driveway?”

I breathed a heavy sigh as I realized that all the things I was eager to hurry up and get done would now have to wait.  We parked the car and walked up the path to the neighbor’s house to let them know what happened.  The car, it turned out, belonged to a sixteen year old boy who was studying at his friend’s house.  I asked him for his information, gave him mine, and assured him that I would pay for the damages his car incurred because of my negligence.  Being sixteen, he insisted on calling his parents, who insisted on getting the police involved.

Realizing that none of the things I wanted to accomplish would now get done that day, I resigned myself to sitting and waiting.  My son’s friend’s parents laughed as they recounted their own story of having done the same thing I just did a few weeks earlier, complete with the same frustration and the same question of why someone would choose to park in such a precarious place.  I was completely engulfed with pity, anger and self absorption.

As the time continued to pass, I gradually moved outside my little world and realized that though I may have believed I was inconvenienced by this whole series of events, my tribulations were minute compared to what this poor boy and his family now had to endure because of my thoughtless and frenzied pace, not to mention the police who surely had more important things to tend to.

The kid, it turns out, had only recently gotten his license, and only recently been allowed the privilege of driving his parents’ car.  He was worried that in some way his actions would compromise their trust in him.  His mother, who most certainly had other ideas of how she wanted to use her time that day, had to forfeit everything to drive over and wait for the police to come fill out a report.  And the parents of my son’s friend had to put up with me hanging around in their driveway for who knew how long until closure was obtained with the whole ordeal.

A wave of humility and embarrassment came over me as I realized how selfish I had been with my thoughts and my time.  And once I started seeing the situation through the eyes of others, my own frustration became replaced with a desire to make the situation more endurable for everyone involved.

That simple shift in my frame of reference made all the difference in the quality of the day I was having, and I think (or at least hope) it prevented the quality of everyone else’s day from further deteriorating due to my previous attitude and the actions that it was resulting in.  Our conversations transitioned from being strained to somewhat enjoyable, and the more I empathized with the other people involved in the unfortunate incident, the more they empathized with me.  Before long, everyone’s agenda shifted to making the best of things – which we actually ended up doing.

When life’s little disturbances throw a monkey wrench in things, we cannot help but feel frustration.  And of course we tend to see things from our own frame of reference most of the time.  But we need to be wary of getting so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we neglect to realize the impact situations (especially those we directly contributed to) have on others.

Allowing others to become the center of our frame of reference allows us to see things we previously missed, and connect with them in ways that enrich everyone.  Our universes expand, and the gifts that comes out of situations like that are often greater than anyone could ever anticipate.  I am convinced that every situation, no matter how annoying it may seem at the time, brings with it a gift.  The question is – will we be able to get to the place where we can see it, and to what degree will we allow it to work its magic?

As a result of that little experience, I try (though I don’t always succeed) to dedicate myself to the habit of really looking around me to take in a bigger picture – not just when I’m driving, but everywhere I go and with everything I do.  I have learned that when I make myself the center of my own universe, I tend to overlook important details and even more important, people.  And at any point I can turn that all around – even when things don’t go the way I would have liked.   Sometimes I don’t remember that until after the fact, but thankfully life is rich with opportunities for practice.

In any conflict – whether self imposed or unexpectedly encountered, we have the choice of what frame of reference we can view things from.  And that decision will make all the difference in the world.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Bouncing Back: Perseverance Personified

 

plant growing through crack and bouncing backWinston Churchill once said, “Success is not final and failure is not fatal – it is the courage to continue that counts.”   Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”  These words of wisdom lead me to ponder even the definitions of the words “success” and “failure“.  Perhaps they are nothing more than labels we use for experiences that could very well be integral stepping stones for the people having them.  Both words are laden with judgment, leading us to want to move toward one and away from the other.  But what if they are simply two sides of the same coin?

“The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure.  These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”       

~ Vince Lombardi

Consider the following events in each of these people’s lives:

  • It has been said that Abraham Lincoln failed in business twice, had a nervous breakdown and was defeated in eight elections.
  •  Walt Disney was fired by the editor of a newspaper who felt he lacked creative ideas.
  •  As a boy, Thomas Edison was told by his teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.
  •  Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda, was turned down for an engineering job by Toyota.
  •  Before becoming a successful actor, John Wayne was rejected from the United States Naval Academy.
  •  Lucille Ball was dismissed by drama school with a note that read, “Wasting her time… she’s too shy to put her best foot forward.”
  •  Steven Spielberg unsuccessfully applied to film school three separate times.
  •  Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  •  Baseball legend Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.
  •  The first novel of best-selling novelist John Grisham was rejected by sixteen agents and twelve publishing houses.
  •  Robert M. Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publishers before it was published in 1974 and went on to sell millions of copies in 27 languages.
  • The Beatles were turned down by the Deca recording company, who said, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on its way out.”

This list could go on and on.  What each of these people have in common is that they didn’t let labels like “success” or “failure” define who they are.  They didn’t allow the events in their lives (or their thoughts and judgments about them) to get in the way of their dreams or their beliefs in what they were capable of – and what was possible.  And their courage, perseverance and determination benefitted not just themselves, but countless others – many of whom came generations later.

I came across another great quote by a woman named Susan Taylor who said, “Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth.”  If this is true, perhaps what some call “failure” is actually a catalyst – or even a prerequisite –  for what others call “success”.

What is going on in your life right now?  What if it is exactly what you need to experience in order to get where you most want to go?

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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