Category Archives: No Limits

Why What Used to Work May Now Be Working Against You (and what to do instead)

bigstock-Inside-a-room-with-opened-door-15725378

Imagine finding yourself in a dark room…It’s a room that was once lit but has since dimmed.

And you have been doing everything you can to turn that light back on.  You’ve even gone so far as to build a contraption that allows you to generate electricity through your own manual effort, sort of like a giant hamster wheel.

The problem is you have to run continuously to produce the smallest splinter of light.  And you find yourself pushing harder and faster to get that light to grow so that more of the room is illuminated once again.

Off in the distance, there is another room that glows brightly and warmly beckons to you. The radiance coming through the doorway of that space is pure and beautiful and you can almost feel its glow. But despite the draw of that warmly lit room, you stay right where you are.  Instead of getting off the crazy hamster wheel that requires constant exertion and toil, you just keep running faster and faster.

And you are becoming exhausted.

This metaphor came to me in a moment of reflection.  I had noticed a theme that I’ve seen echoed among several of my executive coaching clients – and in my own life as well, from time to time.

What used to work well no longer produces results. And that’s a problem. What was once easy and energizing begins to feel cumbersome and draining.  And rather than moving you forward, in some cases it actually thwarts your progress.

But when it’s all you know, it can be difficult to let it go.  You worked so hard to perfect those ways of being, of working, of relating.  And it paid dividends in the past.  You might have thought to yourself, “If I could just double down, and put a little more effort into it, a little more discipline, I could turn it all around,” right?

That’s what many of my clients thought.  Maybe you can relate…

For some, the work they did won them a promotion.  Their intense operational focus and ability to dig in and get results merited them an increased scope and elevated role.  They became responsible for leading and empowering others to do the work they once focused the majority of their effort on.  They were being called to make a bigger, more strategic impact, but their fierce and intense focus on operational details was preventing them from making that leap.

For others, it was work that once excited them but was no longer stimulating. They could do it in their sleep.  Sure, they were good at it, but it was becoming a boring, tedious grind.  It was harder to get out of bed in the morning. There was nothing to look forward to.  And in their quiet moments, they dreamt of doing something bigger, bolder and more impactful.

Some even had ideas and projects they longed to pursue or propose.  But they just couldn’t get themselves to break out of the ruts they were in, and/or doubted whether they really had what it took to do anything different.

And for many others, it was about working in a way that was simply not sustainable. They had a tendency to take on more than most, prioritize everything equally and live in constant fear of letting people down.  So they continued running a race that was increasingly difficult to keep up with, let alone win.  The stress and pressure of their environment was high, but small in comparison to the anxiety they heaped upon themselves.

Regardless of which group you find yourself in, there is a better way not far off in the distance. At some level you are probably aware that something has to give…   You dream of feeling energized again, of being unencumbered and inspired and engaged in meaningful and fulfilling work.  But you can’t get to that new place without being willing to leave the old one.

You can choose to stay in the dark, dreary room because it’s comfortable.  It may no longer be satisfying, or even pleasant, but it’s familiar.  Do you ever shy away from the light that is beckoning you to leave that space because you are afraid of what you’ll see or whether you’ll be able to handle it?

We all do that from time to time, even though…

The light reveals new possibilities for growth, significance and satisfaction. It not only illuminates the challenges and opportunities, but also your strengths – including some you may not have realized you have.  And it ushers in new vitality, new energy and new clarity.  When you summon the courage to leave your dark, dull room and follow the light, you’ll be filled with vigor and joy, and you’ll find your enthusiasm renewed, your passion reignited, even if you don’t believe that yet.

The light of new possibilities brings both freedom and flow.  No more running like hell without getting anywhere.  No more banging your head against a wall only to end up with throbbing pain.  No more feelings of being trapped by your circumstances.  Once you summon the courage to follow the light into new possibilities and ways of working, you’ll experience a momentum that propels you forward in a sustainable way.

I know this because I have experienced it firsthand myself. And over the last twenty plus years I have helped hundreds of executives just like you experience it too.  I can tell you that there is simply nothing like it.  And it has to be experienced to be believed.

That light that beckons to you is a call to step into something bigger and more satisfying. It invites you to release old, outworn ways of working that no longer serve you and step into your personal and professional best – to unleash your greatness, to make a bigger impact and a bigger contribution.  And it brings with it not only new levels of performance and effectiveness, but also fulfillment that enhances your life both on and off the job.

The sad reality is, some of us stay in our dark rooms longer than others. But there is always a way out.  Making that move requires resolve and determination.

It starts with a conscious decision and a commitment to yourself.  You don’t have to have it all figured out. All you need to do is give yourself permission to be curious about it. Once you begin to entertain the idea that there is a better way, you are already on the road to finding it.

You can ask yourself, “What would it look like if things weren’t so hard? What small shifts could I make that would allow me to enjoy my work (and my life) more — without sacrificing my performance?”

Your reticular activating system will kick in and help you find the answers to your questions.  You’ll notice things that previously escaped your attention and find yourself drawn to resources, people, and potential solutions.  You’ll tap into your own wisdom and begin to discern what you must do next – what small changes you can make that could end up having the biggest impact.

And then you’ll need to summon the courage to act on those insights.

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”  – Mark Caine

When you answer this vital call to realize more of your true potential, magic happens.  You can make a bigger impact doing meaningful work without sacrificing who you truly are.  Best of all you’ll enjoy your life more.  You become a shining example and a far more effective leader to others who will learn to make the same improvements in their own lives and careers.

The process can be unnerving.  It requires you to let go of something you know in order to move into something you don’t.  And though the rewards of making that move are profound, it isn’t always easy.

Having someone to guide and support you through the process can really help. I created The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius to assist high achieving executives just like you in making that vital leap with professional high level support and guidance, so you can move through it very quickly, with courage and grace.

The program is a distillation of the most impactful approaches and techniques that have helped my clients over the last twenty plus years to successfully affect their own personal and professional transformations.  These are powerful methodologies I repeatedly utilize in my own life as well.

I’ll be personally guiding an intimate group of executives through this process over the next thirteen weeks utilizing a powerful blend of online training (that you’ll have lifetime access to), small group mastermind meetings and one-on-one coaching support.

What differentiates this program from all the others out there is that it isn’t about blindly following a recipe for success that attempts to make you someone you are not. The program is designed to help you move more deeply into who you truly are, so that you can connect with your own wisdom and allow it to guide you in ways that are authentic and natural to you, and lead you to your own personal uniqueness and strengths.

You’ll learn to leverage your experiences in ways that bring clarity and focus into your life, and experience lightness as you begin to let go of things you’ve been making yourself do all these years that have weighed you down and created unnecessary pressure and anxiety.  All this while enjoying unprecedented levels of performance and energy that is sustainable – because it comes from the inside out.

Whether you decide to join me, or opt to go it alone, I encourage you with all my heart to exercise the courage to answer your own personal and professional call to greatness.  Make the decision now to step out of that dimly lit room and into the light of possibility, expansion and growth.

 

If you’d like to chat about The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed program and get answers to any questions you may have about it, you can click here to schedule a call directly with me.  But don’t wait too long.  The fall session will be kicking off on Wednesday, September 22 and there are only a few seats remaining.  To maximize interaction and individualized support, registration is capped at 8 to 10 people.  Click here for more information or to save your seat.

Does your organization sponsor professional development?  To assist you in getting approval to use corporate funds for your registration in the program, download the business case for participating in the program.

 

 

 

Unleash Your Genius & Blaze a New Trail

 

Do you remember what it was like to be unconstrained by the world’s limitations?

Maybe you were a young child, wanting to fly to the moon or discover buried treasure.  How long was it before the people around you compelled you to be more “practical and realistic”?

They didn’t mean any harm.  In fact, those people likely had your best interests in mind.  They wanted to help you learn the rules for engagement in a world of challenges and limitations– to keep you from experiencing pain and disappointment.

Chances are you do that for your own children.  I know I do.

But over time, the rules for engagement can become more constraining than they are empowering.  Especially when those rules don’t really apply the way they used to.

Have you noticed that many of the old, ingrained ways of getting things done and achieving success are no longer effective, or even relevant?

We are all experiencing it – on both an individual and a collective level, in our homes, our communities and our organizations.  And we need to find a better way of dealing with these emerging challenges and opportunities.  To do that, we must transcend old, well-worn, even tried and true methods that just aren’t working anymore.

The time has come for us to access the creativity, ingenuity, curiosity and wonder of that little kid that knew no limits and had the willingness and determination to blaze a new trail.

We need to unearth the GENIUS that each of us was born with – a part of ourselves that all too often gets silenced and constricted by the very conditioning that was intended to keep us safe.

That’s what this week’s video is about.  It marks the opening of public registration for the spring session The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed – How to Access the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, which will kick off on March 3

For more information or to reserve your seat, visit www.UnleashtheExtraordinary.com.

Here’s to your Genius!

 

 

 

It’s Time to Live Your Dream

 

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to life the life which he imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Over the history of time, there have been among us people who dared to dream big and ended up creating something magnificent as a result. What they had in common was not their station in life, their family inheritance or even necessarily a solid education. Many rose up despite odds that would suggest their lives would be quite ordinary, or insignificant, perhaps growing up amidst gangs and violence and poverty to become leaders whose life stories would inspire millions of others from all backgrounds and circumstances.

What differentiates these people from the rest? And what can we all learn from them?

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.” ~ Carl Sandburg

People who do amazing things in the world often have a dream that they lovingly nurture and protect. From somewhere in the depths of their being, they know they are capable of greatness – not because they were born into it or are particularly more gifted than everyone else, but simply because it is their birthright – as it is for all of us.

Each one of us has the ability to create something extraordinary. We all have different talents and strengths, diverse styles and passions – along with a unique combination of experiences (for better or worse) that allows us to discover and apply them to create something bigger than ourselves. We may not know exactly what form it will take, but if we pay attention to the whispers and yearnings of our hearts, we begin to make out the shape of something that beckons to us.

As children, most of us received mixed messages. We may have been encouraged to follow our hearts and give life to our dreams, in addition to being conditioned to be practical, hedge our bets and take the safest route. Over time, many of us have allowed the roar of public opinion – that often tells us our dreams are frivolous, selfish and unlikely to come to fruition – to silence that small still voice within. But those among us who have risen against their odds have learned to reverse that process and believe in themselves and their dreams despite the overwhelming evidence around them that would suggest that success is improbable.

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lost that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” ~ Martin Luther King

The beginning of each year brings with it the question of what you will focus your time, energy and resources into accomplishing. It is an optimal time to reacquaint yourself with your dreams and visions, your purpose and values, and the question of how you can become a living example of that which you most admire. You may be quite sure of what it is you would like to create, do, have or become. Or perhaps you have only small pieces of a bigger puzzle that has not yet come together.

The power of your dream will be bolstered by the degree to which your vision expands beyond your own interests to those of others around you. Spend some time contemplating where you feel most drawn and why. When you land on something that will allow your gifts to align with those of others to accomplish complementary goals, you will join forces with something much greater than yourself. It will lift you up when your energy is low and sustain you through moments of doubt and fear.

Perhaps the whispers of our heart and the calls to greatness that we feel within our souls are essential components of a larger, collective plan that we each play a vital part in. As we rise up to play these parts fully and wholeheartedly, we can revel in the beauty of its mysterious unfolding. In the process, we will discover ourselves to be greater than we thought we were and use each moment of our lives to create something extraordinary for ourselves and others.

“Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams.”

~ Robert K. Greenleaf

 

The above article contains excerpts from my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader – How to Unleash Genius in Yourself and Those You Lead, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

Image by DWilliams from Pixabay. 

Three Tips for Leading Through Uncertainty

employees bravely step towards an opportunity

 

In the midst of change, challenge and uncertainty as massive as what are collectively facing, every one of us is being called upon to exercise a very important kind of leadership.  Whether you are at the helm of an organization, a team, a community or a family, people are likely looking to you for strength and guidance – at a time when you, yourself are seeking it as well.

In times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever
to hold fast to the conviction that each one of us has what it takes to rise above anything life may bring us.

This is what the greatest leaders have done throughout history. It’s easy to lead when things are stable and successful. It’s when all chaos breaks loose and the chances of survival are slim that the world’s heroes have inspired people to remember who they are and rise up to their most daunting challenges.

Here are three things to remember to help you summon true leadership in yourself and others:

(1) Nothing will come your way that you cannot handle.

If you want proof, consider the fact that you are still here. Think back to the last struggle or setback you faced. What did you do? How did you get through it? What did you learn? In retrospect, what would you tell yourself in order to help you get through that? And what will you tell yourself now?

Sometimes it helps to think of the worst-case scenario. What would you do? Really. What would you do? If you sit with that question and allow yourself to remain calm, you will find an answer.

Because when you get quiet, you summon that which is timeless within you – that which will not change with the uncertainty, but rather grow stronger in the face of it – your inner strength, resilience, creativity and ingenuity.

Benjamin Franklin said it well many years ago: “To be thrown upon one’s own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; four our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.”

Getting connected to your core strength is essential and must be done before you can provide any real inspiration and motivation to others. Your confidence will emanate at a level that people will feel – before you even say a word.

(2) Once you have reconnected with your own inner reserves, help others reconnect with theirs.

Extraordinary leaders connect with people at a deeper level. They see not only what each person they lead has done in the past, but also what they are capable of in the future.

In times of chaos and uncertainty, people need to be reminded of their strengths because trying times tend to lead us to doubt ourselves and forget how very capable and strong we really are.

Think about the people who look to you for guidance and support. What has each of them done in the past that has impressed you? What are their natural talents – the things they are so good at that they make look easy? What do they tend to do that has a positive impact on themselves and everyone around them?

Maybe it is a sense of humor. Perhaps it is an ability to foresee obstacles no one anticipated and create a plan for overcoming them. Maybe it is an ability to think outside the box, a dogged determination to make things work, or a natural tendency to partner with others.

What is it that gives you faith that no matter what happens, this person will rise above it? Speak to it with sincere appreciation and encouragement. Help that person to embody those qualities once again.

When you focus on the positive attributes in others, you help them recognize they have greatness within and catalyze their potential. This is what is needed most in times of change, challenge and uncertainty.

(3) Keep people’s focus (including your own) on possibilities rather than frustrations.

As with everything in life, whatever you focus on has a way of becoming amplified. When you allow yourself to become consumed with fear and doubt, your brain has a way of finding things that feed those states.  As a result, you’ll find there seems to be even more to be afraid of or frustrated by.

This phenomenon often happens without your conscious awareness, and it is a vicious cycle that can keep you falling deeper and deeper into despair.

Reversing this cycle requires a conscious effort.

When you notice you are feeling upset by a certain thought, the first step is to become aware of the thought that has caused the reaction and deliberately choose another one to focus on. There is always something positive or hopeful to focus on. Sometimes finding it takes a bit of work, but that effort will be met with rich rewards.

A man named Ambrose Redmoon once said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important.”

So, figure out what is more important – more worthy of your attention and energy and focus on that. As you do, your innate talents and strengths will rise to the occasion.

As you shift your attention from obstacles to opportunities and put your energy on what is possible, you’ll see solutions that previously evaded you and recognize that you are capable of far more than you initially realized. And when you act from this frame of reference, you’ll inspire others to do the same.

Regardless of your title, position or role, you have an opportunity to practice REAL leadership at a time when people around you need it the most.  Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on yourself and others.  Remember:

(1) Nothing will come your way that you cannot handle.

(2) Once you have reconnected with your own inner reserves, help others reconnect with theirs.

(3) Keep people’s focus (including your own) on possibilities rather than frustrations.

For more tips on navigating through change and uncertainty, check out my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader – How to Unleash Genius in Yourself and Those You Lead, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Could there be order in your chaos?

computer animated profile that shows the profile breaking apart and leveraging chaos

Like many, I was brought up to think that things happened in a linear way – first this, then that; one building block upon another in a specific order; cause and effect. 

I have since realized that the process of focusing on a larger vision or desire often triggers a chain of seemingly disjointed events that is in reality very connected.  

It’s like watching a movie of a glass shattering in reverse motion.  The pieces come from all directions, seemingly unrelated, to assemble into a perfect whole. 

Each piece is absolutely necessary, in and of itself incomplete and incomprehensibly connected to a bigger picture.

There are ups and downs and what may feel like divergent paths from that which we may have previously anticipated.  However, these seemingly divergent paths are absolutely necessary for us to experience the totality of our vision. 

Sometimes a part of the healing process involves the experience of pain, or other symptoms.  While we may point to these as signs that there is illness present, we could more accurately see them as evidence of our healing.

We may not realize the significance or relevance of these experiences until much later, when looking in retrospect we become aware of the distinct reason that we needed to endure any given challenge, setback, delay, or what originally felt like an irrelevant nuisance. 

These obstacles give us a greater perspective on who we are, a larger appreciation for where we have been and where we are going, and a compassion for others who experience the same things we have along the way.

In dealing with these challenges, we realize that we are far greater than we thought we were.  And as leaders, we can help others appreciate and leverage their own chaos as well.

Author Eckhart Tolle wrote, “Sometimes what’s in the way IS the way.”

What’s irritating you right now?

Perhaps the very experience you would rather put behind you contains the very thing you need to get where you ultimately want to go.

How can you leverage it in ways that allow you to find order in your chaos?





How to Leverage Your Past to Supercharge Your Future

executive looks forward to new beginnings

Well, the dust is finally settling, and the holiday decorations are (almost) packed up and put away for next year. For many, the holidays are a frenzied time – a rush to the finish line that has adrenaline spiking for days on end. Between running around trying to find the perfect gifts to sending out cards, preparing meals, entertaining family and friends and spending a lot of time around people we don’t often get to see, it can be exhausting.

Some of us were lucky enough to have a bit of down time before jumping back in to the excitement that the New Year brings. And others of us have simply been riding that wave that takes us from one activity to the next, with little time for transition. Though New Year’s Day has come and gone, it is never too late to take advantage of the demarcation that the end of one year and the beginning of another brings.

The turning of each year lends itself well to waxing reflective, calling to mind both the experiences in the past that have led us to the present moment, as well as what the future might hold – what magnificent things are bubbling up within us, just waiting to take form.

It’s curious that we often associate moments of reflection with major milestones (like a New Year), rather than as a continual process in our lives. Yet it’s easy to let the frenetic pace of business, the holidays, and personal affairs prevent us from enjoying the clarity of being alone with our thoughts, and even going beyond them into the silence of our own experience.

We get swept up in a kind of auto pilot mode, where we just do what is in front of us and go from one thing to the next, without a lot of thought.

But it is in the evaluation and reflection of our experiences that we receive insight – a vital gift that can become meaningful and empowering force in our lives.

Pressing on from one thing to the next without pausing long enough to integrate what we have learned deprives us of the gifts these experiences bring. It’s like finding a few wrapped presents with your name on them that were left behind in the festivities – and absentmindedly throwing them into a box instead of opening them up to see what’s inside.

Our experiences are uniquely designed to allow us to learn – about ourselves, others, and life itself. We learn about what works, what feels good, what doesn’t, who we are, what we are capable of, what we want more of (and less of too).

But only if we pause long enough to entertain the questions that allow us to unpack these gifts that are waiting to be opened.

If you have not yet afforded yourself the indulgence of conscious and intentional reflection, I encourage you to carve out some time to do so. Because the best goals, the best visions to move toward in the coming year will be those that align with the whispers of your heart – those that tap the infinite potential and wisdom that is already inside you. And you’ll never really know what those are until you take the time to go within and ask.

Below are some questions that can help you in this process. Some of these questions might seem more powerful to you than others – let yourself go where you are drawn with them. You may even want to take a quick look at them and then put them away and see what comes to you when your mind is empty of thoughts.

Or, you may scrap these questions and come up with different ones of your own. The important thing is to allow yourself the time to go within and listen with curiosity and earnestness.

QUESTIONS FOR YEAR-END REFLECTION

 

  • As you reflect on this past year, what were your three or four most significant accomplishments, breakthroughs, and/or achievements?
  • Looking back over the year, what (if anything) blocked or held you back as you moved toward your goals/objectives? How will you overcome those obstacles in the future?
  • What were your biggest insights or realizations over the past year that you gained through your experiences?
  • How will you apply what you learned this past year to what you want to create in the upcoming year?
  • What are the top two or three things about your job/practice that you most want to be different this year?
  • What two or three changes do you most want to see in your personal life?
  • What significant challenges will face you this year? Personally? Professionally?
  • What strengths will you rely on most to face the challenges that lie ahead?
  • What qualities, skills, etc. could you develop within yourself to better arm you for the upcoming year?
  • Picture yourself a year from now, looking back over the past year. What three or four accomplishments would you like to have achieved?
  • What actions are you prepared to take to achieve your desired results for the upcoming year?

If you really want to supercharge your coming year, consider joining me and an intimate group of fellow leaders in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed:  The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Geniuskicking off the week of 2/17/20.

I look forward to another year ahead of navigating a path of discovery – one that will lead us all closer to our most precious goals, and allow us to make the most out of every experience we have – leaving everything we touch a little better off for the interaction – our teams, our customers, our colleagues, friends, family, and of course, ourselves.

Wishing you a wonderful and prosperous New Year ahead!

How to Up Level Your Game by Upgrading Your Internal Programming

man overcomes technological setback with his mindset

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

You notice that it has been freezing up a lot. Sometimes when you execute a command, things happen that you didn’t intend. At first, it didn’t really bother you. You just made do and went on. 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.

Take John as an example
John is a senior executive that wanted to increase his ability to influence others. His style was bold and direct and he was accustomed to using his authority to get compliance. He had high expectations that most people who reported to him jumped through hoops to meet. John was known for his ability to get things done.

But as John interfaced more and more with people he had no authority over, including his peers or their direct reports, this approach often backfired. When they didn’t behave the way he wanted, his demands that they comply often made things worse. They became defensive and unresponsive. And he began to realize his approach wasn’t working as well as he thought with his direct reports either.

Suddenly, John was no longer getting results. Worse, he was beginning to get a reputation for being difficult to work with. In his efforts to find a better way to influence people, John began to learn what he needed to do differently.

And though he did his best to change his behavior accordingly, when things got tense he reverted to old patterns of behavior that were deeply ingrained.

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

So how do you find a bug in your program?
Like John, you start by recognizing that you aren’t getting the results you want. instead of doubling down on your efforts or beating yourself up for not succeeding, you get curious.  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
When John replayed the events of many of his interactions with others, he recognized that what he really wanted (and needed) to do when someone disagreed with him was to respond thoughtfully, with curiosity and patience.

But he also realized that before his mental faculty was engaged, he had already launched into action with a much more abrupt and abrasive response. And before he knew it, despite his best intentions he had said something he would later regret.

He was reacting instead of responding.

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

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

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

Once you have identified the bug, you can begin to eliminate it
Simply being aware of a knee jerk reaction will begin to loosen its grip on you. When John realized he had a tendency to override his true intention by launching into an old undesirable pattern before realized what was happening, he also became increasingly aware of the negative consequences that behavior created.

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

Initially he didn’t catch his errors until after the fact, but with increased awareness and attention John noticed them sooner and sooner. The time it took him to catch his blunders went from hours to minutes and with continued diligence he was able to take steps to correct them in real time. Ultimately, he got to the point where he could prevent himself 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.

As John drove home from work mentally reviewing the way he handled himself in a meeting, he reflected on what he would have liked to do differently. And then he replayed the scene in his mind with a new, more desirable ending. He continued to do this daily. As he did, he literally rewired his brain.

Doing so allowed him to create and increasingly rely on new neural networks when he was in situations that necessitated a different response. Gradually he was able to replace his tendency to demand compliance with a more thoughtful, respectful and engaging approach to influencing others.

And over time John once again became known not only for getting results, but for creating sustainable solutions and strong relationships.

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!

 

This is a little peek into what participants in the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius will be learning and practicing over the next thirteen weeks.  Though enrollment is now closed, you can email support@DianeBolden.com to get on the waiting list for the next session (which will most likely take place in spring), or to inquire about bringing the program in house.

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

 

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

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

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

I hope you enjoy it!

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

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

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Day

Ever feel like you are running like hell, but not getting anywhere?

Sometimes despite our best efforts, things go awry. Unforeseen circumstances can do a real number on us, people may not always do what we want them to, and sometimes the rug just gets pulled out from under you. 

But you don’t need to let it stop you.

Watch this video for three tips to transform a bad day from a setback into a springboard.

Want more?

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

 

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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