Category Archives: Transforming Your Vision into Reality

The Fallacy of Failure

a young boy crouched on a floor with the shadow showing arms raised in triumph over the fallacy of failure

“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

~ Robert H. Schuller

I have come across the above quote often and pondered it reflectively.  It inspires me to think big – contemplating all the many things I have dreamed of creating or being a part of.  I often feel compelled to make a list – and have done so many times.  I encourage my clients to do this as well.

But the most interesting and show stopping part of that quote for me is the idea of “failure”.

It’s easy to think of shooting for the moon when the idea of crashing down to the ground doesn’t enter the picture.  We can dream and scheme all we want, but in order to make our dreams real, we must take action.  And when we do, this idea of failure seems to have a way of creeping in despite our best attempts to move forward in spite of it.

Failure means different things to different people.  But I think the most debilitating thing about the idea of failure is having to experience or endure some kind of pain – pain of rejection, embarrassment, loss, financial ruin – not to mention its actual physical variations.

The interesting thing to me about pain is that – thankfully – it is usually finite.  It comes and it goes.  And while we don’t always have any control over whether we experience it, we do seem to play a part in how long it lasts and how uncomfortable it gets.

As a kid, getting immunizations was terrifying. I remember how worked up I would get before the needle even came close to my skin.  And I’ve watched my kids do the same thing – even screaming or wailing before contact was ever actually made.  But a few seconds later, the injections were completed before the kids even realized it.

They got off the exam table and immediately went onto other things – except perhaps when one of them needed a little more sympathy and deliberately focused on the site of the shot and the blood on the bandage – prolonging the unpleasant experience and making it into something far more painful than it really needed to be.

I think we do the same thing when we contemplate the pain that accompanies what we believe would be “failure”.  Our minds have a way of making it far more ominous than it ever is in reality.  And if we happen to find ourselves experiencing it, we can also fall into the trap of unwittingly making it more uncomfortable than it really needs to be.

But we can also exercise resilience and determination in our ability to bounce back and focus on something that will allow us to move forward in spite of an otherwise unpleasant experience.

Because what it really comes down to is what your experience – regardless of the way it turns out – has given you, rather than cost you.  People who have accomplished extraordinary things in the world are the first to tell you that what many refer to as “failure” has plagued them time after time – and many will tell you those experiences were prerequisites for their success.

What differentiates them from those who allowed “failure” to defeat them is that they picked themselves up, figured out what they could learn, and moved forward armed with a new awareness, a new understanding, and a renewed commitment to their greatest dreams and visions.

I think we all need a shot from time to time.  A shot of humility, compassion – and humor.  A shot that will only serve to make us stronger, more determined, and far more resilient than we were before. What great thing can YOU achieve today, knowing that you simply cannot fail?

If you’re ready to play a bigger game, consider enrolling in the spring 2020 session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed:  The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.  It’s an exclusive thirteen week leadership development program that will help you push through the resistance and sidestep the pitfalls that keep you from unleashing GENIUS in yourself and those you lead — and unlock extraordinary performance in yourself and other while experiencing greater joy and fulfillment both on and off the job.

For a limited time, you can lock in the 2019 prices before they go up in 2020.  Give yourself an early holiday gift that’ll help you usher in a bigger, brighter 2020 by claiming one of the ten seats that are now available

 


 

3 Vital Steps for Personal and Professional Transformation

DianeBolden_FB_11.01.17

Though the Halloween parties and trick or treaters will come and go, as I wrote in my last post, 3 Fundamental Truths to Help You Become What You Most Admire, you can continue to enjoy the fun and intrigue of stepping into the version of yourself you most want to explore. Every day brings with it a fresh opportunity to transform in ways that allow you to create, achieve or experience a new way of living and leading – and become more of who you truly are.

But how do you get from here to there? Last week’s article was about how to overcome the mental barriers that can keep you from even entertaining the idea of dressing up to become a better you. This week we’ll explore what you can do to play in this new arena once you’ve made that critical decision to step into a whole new level of possibility.

(1) GET CLARITY ON WHAT YOU ARE MOVING TOWARD AND WHY

Creating a compelling vision can be daunting to some because it often leads people to think they need to know exactly what everything will look like and all (or many) of the steps they need to take to get there. But the beauty of having a vision is that you don’t need to have it all figured out. You just have to want it. And getting clarity on your vision is more a matter of tuning in than crafting something that doesn’t yet exist.

When you want to move toward something, whatever it is you desire already lives and breathes in your mind. While you may not be able to describe every nuance of what it will look or feel like, chances are there are aspects of it that are quite vivid in your imagination. The more time you spend and the more freedom you give yourself to play with that vision, the more it will flesh itself out.

Just as important as tuning into what the vision looks and feels like is strengthening your connection to WHY you want it. The more it speaks to your values and deepest desires, the more meaning your vision will have and the more it will fuel you with the energy necessary to bring it into reality. This leads us to the next step.

(2) LET YOUR VISION INFORM YOUR ACTIONS

Vision provides the guiding principle around which actions organize themselves. When you start from a powerful and compelling vision, the act of planning becomes much more organic and natural. You can start by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • What major milestones would I need to accomplish to make my vision a reality?
  • What steps would I need to take to achieve each of these milestones?
  • What actions or habits could I institute to enhance or speed my progress?
  • What would I need to learn that I don’t already know, and how could I gain that knowledge?
  • What, if anything, do I need to stop doing that could impede or derail my progress?

The answers to these questions may come like a downpour in a brainstorming session you have with yourself. They could also continue to drop in and reveal themselves slowly, over time. Your ability to receive and discern these answers will be greatly enhanced with the third vital step to personal and professional transformation.

(3) CREATE SPACE TO RECEIVE ONGOING INSIGHT

Often we are so busy moving from one thing to the next, and so preoccupied by thought that we fail to notice critical pieces of information, creative ideas and solutions that land softly in the corners of our minds. The noise in our heads has a way of drowning them out and the multitude of things in our line of sight obstructs our view.

There will never be a shortage of things competing for our attention. It is important for us to realize that just as we need not answer the phone every time it rings, we also do not need to allow our attention to be hijacked by everything that demands it. We must be intentional about what we allow to occupy our minds and consume our vital energy.

Creating space happens on both the physical and mental realms. Physical space is created when you block time on your calendar to work toward your vision and treat it with the same regard you would time with a client or other vital stakeholder. Mental space is created when you refuse to engage with thoughts that are bringing you down or clouding your optimism.

It is easy to believe that to make progress, you must quell your anxiety, overcome your resistance and turn negativity into positivity. But as I teach in The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, when your thinking is in a low state, no amount of additional thinking will help. It only adds to the problem and blocks your innate creativity, ingenuity and resilience. You’ll likely feel bad about feeling bad, and throw yourself into an unnecessary (and easily avoided) downward thought spiral.

You don’t have to feel well to perform well. Thoughts come and go. When you resist the temptation to engage with thoughts that bring you down, they eventually pass in the same way water becomes clear when it settles. Sometimes the very act of doing things without thinking too much about them opens up new insights and leads you to do the very thing you worried you couldn’t – much more proficiently than you ever imagined.

Personal and professional transformation doesn’t need to be a heavy, serious endeavor. The most powerful visions are those that have us moving toward something we desire because we want it, but know that even if it didn’t come to pass, our innate well-being is not at stake.

There is nothing to fix and nothing to fear. So have some fun exploring the possibilities. The more you play at it, in much the same way you play at dressing up for Halloween, the less pressure you’ll put on yourself – and the more space you create for your transformation to occur.

For more on how to bring your grandest dreams and visions into reality, download my special report Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead) and stay tuned for more tools, techniques and tips to come.






Want to Do More? You Should Start by Doing Less

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

 

What are you longing to create for yourself?

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

 

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

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

What if you started with less instead of more?

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

We are constantly evolving as human beings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easier said than done, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Space brings freedom.

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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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Become a Leader – The One Factor that Can Make or Break You

female sitting in a chair with a lightbulb lit up above her head and thinking about becoming a leader

In fall of 2010, I was interviewed by an Arizona Republic reporter for an article on how to best position yourself to move from being an individual contributor to becoming a manager.  As I prepared for the interview, I began to reflect on the question of what differentiates successful leaders from struggling managers.  Among the several factors I could identify, one loomed larger than any of the others – your MOTIVATION for wanting to become a leader will make all the difference in the level of success you will have. 

Many people believe that becoming a manager is the next best step because of the increased pay, prestige and upward mobility it will bring.  And while it is often true that such a promotion will allow you to enjoy these things – if that is your only reason for wanting it, you will do yourself, the organization you work for, and all the people with whom you will interact a huge service if think a little more about your options before you charge full speed ahead.

Moving into management requires people to shift their focus from achieving individual success to achieving collective success.  And the determining factor of that success changes from what you are able to do on your own to what you are able to accomplish through others.  If your main interest is your own career mobility, you will have difficulty gaining the trust and respect of others that is necessary to influence and enable them to succeed.  And if they do not succeed, neither will you.

Wanting them to succeed is not enough.  You must be committed enough to their success to take the time to coach, mentor and otherwise support them to reach their career goals.  If this does not appeal to you, it will feel like drudgery –something you must do that takes you away from all the things you would rather be doing.  But if this work does appeal to you, every day will offer new opportunities to find meaning and fulfillment in your work – by helping others discover themselves to be greater than they initially realized, and working toward something bigger than yourself.

Moving into management requires people to shift from the tactical and operational to the strategic.  That means that all the things you were good at as an individual contributor will no longer be sufficient to enable you to succeed as a manager and a leader.  You will need to enable and rely on others to do those things so that you are freed up to do more strategic, big picture things – things that will require you to go out of your comfort zone.

Your focus must shift from the workings of your individual job to how all the jobs in your department complement each other and what you can do to allow the work of your department to best mesh with other departments and contribute to the organization as a whole.  The problems you’ll address will have a larger span and impact those you were previously accustomed to working on and you will need to collaborate with people you may not have otherwise had to interface with.  Additionally, a large part of your job will be envisioning and helping to create a better future – one that will allow the organization as a whole to succeed.  Identifying and addressing opportunities that are coming around the bend and matching them to people with the talent necessary to seize them will become a vital part of your work.

It is not uncommon for people in management positions to find that these jobs don’t feel like they’re all they were cracked up to be.  If you are one of them, it is important to realize that this doesn’t mean you failed.  It simply means that you have succeeded in getting that much closer to finding work that is aligned with your true self – work that will not only bring you satisfaction and fulfillment but also the opportunity to make a vital contribution.

Get busy identifying what you are truly motivated to do.  Many organizations have technical tracks that offer the same (or more) upward mobility and financial reward that management tracks do.  Pay attention to the opportunities that have beckoned to you in the past – even the ones you thought were too crazy to entertain.  If you have a recurring dream of doing anything other than what you are doing now, give it more credence.  It just may be the ticket that allows you to find the job of your dreams – and the chance to exercise your own distinct form of leadership, by doing what you were truly meant to do.

 

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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Beyond the Bulletproof Image – How Being Vulnerable Makes You Strong

 

dandelion withstanding the elements outside representing a bulletproof imageI can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with over the course of my career who believe that to be a credible, strong leader, you must come across as infallible, having all the answers – being rock solid.  Newer leaders often feel as though they do not have a lot to offer in meetings and other gatherings because they do not know much yet.  Out of fear of being exposed as someone who is not on top of their game, many times they remain silent – when in actuality the questions they would otherwise ask out of sheer curiosity and desire to learn could become the very impetus the organization needs to see things with fresh eyes and recognize opportunities they previously missed.

On the other extreme, I occasionally meet with people who on the face of things have it all together.  They are poised, polished, and seemingly the picture of perfection.  And they are often stumped at why they have been unable to motivate and inspire their people to new levels of performance and success.  Initially, I sometimes find it difficult to connect to people like this and often go on to learn while gathering feedback for them that others do too.

I think it’s because the rock solid persona they project is rarely a true representation of who they really are. And before you can engage the hearts and minds of others as visionary leaders do, you must be able to connect with them – and they must feel a connection to you.

The problem with needing to have a bulletproof image is that very few, if any, people in this world are really “bulletproof.”  In fact, if ever there were a trait or characteristic that is shared by virtually the whole human race, it is that we all have fears, insecurities and misgivings.  We all make mistakes.  We all know far less than we would like to or even have the capacity for.  These things that make us humble and vulnerable connect us to each other in profound ways that are often overlooked and/or unacknowledged.

Think of the people in your life who have inspired you over the years.  Maybe it was someone close to you – like a parent, teacher, or coach.  Or perhaps it was a public or historical figure.  If you try to identify the qualities in that person that really made an impact on you, it is likely not so much what they achieved in life as what they had to overcome in order to do it – disappointment, failure, challenge, fear, perhaps even an illness or handicap of some kind.

So it seems there may be something to gain by allowing these little things we have been conditioned to hide from each other to be a bit more visible.  First of all, it takes a lot of pressure off of you.  When we learn to take ourselves a little less seriously and give ourselves permission to not know everything, we move beyond worrying so much about what everyone else thinks of us to be truly present with other people – to really listen to them, to be curious about their unique perspectives, ideas, and insights.  The emphasis goes from having to showcase our knowledge, competence and stature to learning from others and helping them to feel valued and appreciated. 

Secondly, when we are less guarded about our fears, misgivings and challenges, we realize that these things are nothing to be ashamed of.  Because in spite of them, we have risen up to the challenges in our lives.  And sometimes the most inspiring thing we can do for others is help them to realize that though they are in the thick of their own fear, they too can find something within them that will allow them to bounce back or rise up – to recognize a strength they didn’t realize they had – and to use it in a way that truly benefits not just themselves, but everyone around them.

“Wisdom begins in wonder.” ~ Socrates

 

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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Leading with Presence

 

three rows of birds on wire with one bird on its own leading with presence Driving to an appointment the other day, I went to make a right turn and couldn’t help but notice the people in each of the cars lined up waiting to turn left.  One woman had a forlorn expression, and her head drooped over her steering wheel.  The woman in the car behind her revealed a smile and an upward glance that seemed full of joy and anticipation.  The face of the man in the car behind her was twisted up and his shoulders appeared to be close to his ears.  His eyes were locked onto his blackberry, which he held in his free hand.

I smiled as I realized that I could relate to each of these people.  I could have been any of them at any given time.  And then the thought occurred to me that I could be any one of them as the day progressed.  Which would I choose?  The answer to that question could very well determine the quality of my entire day, and could also quite likely impact the quality of the day of those around me as well.

Every once in a while when I go out running I see a little old man riding a beach cruiser.  In the dawn hours, as the sun begins to rise above the horizon, the light on his handlebars shines brightly.  He is kind of a round man with short, fuzzy white hair and bright blue eyes.  He pedals his bicycle so slowly that it is a wonder they both don’t just fall over.  But what is most striking about him is that he is always smiling.

Every time I see this man, rain or shine, it seems he has something to be happy about.  And his smile isn’t just the polite grin that people often flash as they enter each other’s space.  It is the kind that comes from a deep satisfaction and wonderment with life.  The little light on his bicycle shines brightly at the crack of dawn, but the radiance around him is even more vibrant.  I find myself hoping to see him on my morning runs and experiencing a wave of joy and delight every time I do – feeling lighter and happier just for the experience of having crossed his path.  His presence alone is truly inspiring.

I think emanating a positive presence is one of the most crucial things leaders can do for people.  And to have this kind of influence and effect on others, you don’t have to have a fancy title, a bunch of people reporting to you, or even be a part of an organization at all.  People pick up, consciously and subconsciously on the energy we emanate – and for better or worse, those we spend a lot of time around will often align themselves with it.  True leaders – in any setting or vocation – are consciously aware of the tone they set through their own presence.  They use it to uplift and inspire others, seeing the brilliance of everyone and everything around them and always reflecting it back. 

I wonder whether that little man on the beach cruiser has any idea of how profoundly he has affected me.  And I wonder if you realize the effect you can have on the lives of everyone around you as well…  maybe without even having to say a word.

“We can do more good by being good, than in any other way.”     

~ Rowland Hill

 

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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Leveraging Chaos

 

computer animated profile that shows the profile breaking apart and leveraging chaosLike 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 when one has a larger vision and experiences this vision as though it has already happened, a chain of events is triggered that results in what may appear to be a disjointed series of events that is in reality very connected.  

This can be compared to 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 little 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.

“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.”

~ Henry B. Adams

 

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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