Tag Archives: Resistance

Just Let it Rip – The Problem with Polished

standing in front of an audience as a public speaker

If you want a rush, forget about skydiving, bungee jumping, or walking over hot coals. Try speaking extemporaneously, from your heart to a group of people for at least ten minutes. They say public speaking ranks as people’s number one fear, even higher than fear of death.

I did that one weekend a while back. I chose that. I wanted to put myself in a situation that would push me smack up against my greatest resistance and fear and just see what would happen. I committed to doing it, even though it scared the hell out of me. I purposely didn’t prepare. I wasn’t exactly sure WHAT I was going to say or do. In the minutes before I would be called up to speak, I felt my heart beating in my mouth. My hands were sweaty. There was an electricity around me that I feared would paralyze every muscle in my body.

I never thought I was afraid of public speaking. I’ve facilitated workshops, taught classes, done lectures. I learned to enjoy being on stage or at the front of the room, though in the back of my mind horrible thoughts lurked – like, “What if I let these people down? What if I waste their time? What if the things that come out of my mouth don’t make any sense? What if my presentation is just ho, hum and people start to yawn, or check their phones, or tune out altogether?”

I’ve resisted these fears in my past – fought them with long, hard preparation and research and practice. I’ve poured over my subjects, outlining them, dissecting them, breaking the concepts down and then putting them back together. I’ve designed curriculum, carefully constructed to ensure that each learning point was supported, reinforced, tested. I’ve memorized it, dreamt it, ate it for dinner, and regurgitated it again and again and again for practice.

But the more polished and prepared I tried to be, the less I connected with my audience. The less fulfilled all of us came away from the presentation feeling. And my greatest fears became a reality. They were bored. They were restless. They left wanting something more. And so did I.

The truth is, for everything I know, there is far more that I don’t know and want to learn. The more I venture into that part of me that doesn’t know things, the more curious I am. And the more I indulge my curiosity, the less I care about managing my appearances, needing to come across as someone who’s got it all figured out. Instead of filling my mind with stuff that ends up feeling more like clutter than anything else, I find that my heart begins to open and beat with a new energy and vibrancy. It receives. It remembers. It guides. It connects.

I’m intrigued with people who are willing to courageously step on stage and talk about what scares the hell out of them. I enjoy watching the bloopers more than the polished, perfected performance. Let me see you at your most vulnerable. Not so that I can feel superior to you, but so that I can be inspired by you. Because what keeps us from truly connecting with each other is our need to cover up and mask the common denominator that truly unites us. We are human. We feel. We cry. We love. We yearn. We try. We leap. We fall. We get back up again.

In conversations with people, when I dare to forget about my mask, my facade, my persona — and just say what’s in my heart, I am liberated. I am connected. I am transformed. Sometimes when I do that, the people around me drop their facades too and things begin to get interesting. We dispense with small talk and go for the good stuff. We lose sense of time and space and are embraced by the electric buzz of possibility and wonder. And we leave each other’s presence feeling uplifted and inspired.

That’s what I want to bring to the stage in every area of my life. I’m beginning to realize that the powerful part of writing, speaking, creating a video, engaging in conversation — anything we do to connect with others — is not so much about finding the perfect combination of words, but rather about tapping into an energy — live, vibrant, pulsing, bright, beautiful.

Our greatest opportunity is to create a bridge through which this energy can somehow travel from one to another in such a way that it will liberate, soothe, uplift, energize, inspire, and fill us all up with boundless passion and light until we burst in a joyous explosion of blissful exhilaration, and brighten everything and everyone around us.

That was my intention that one weekend when I got up in front of people and spoke without any preparation, and it is still my intention.  With this blog, in my meetings with clients, with my family, my friends, and my very self.  Polished? Perfected?  Heck no.  Fun?  Thrilling?  Worth the risk?  Ohhh, yes.  And I’m just getting started…

What can you do today to forget about polished and just let it rip? Move into your fear. There is energy and electricity there. For you. For me. For all of us.

I dare you.


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.

Real Leader Revolution

How to Accomplish More by Thinking Less


How much of your time is spent thinking about what really needs to get done versus doing it? If you are like most people, the more anxiety or resistance you have to a given task, the more your thoughts will throw you for a loop.

Sometimes those thought loops suck up a whole heap of time that could be much better spent. In many cases the thoughts we have about what’s in front of us lead us to procrastinate and block us from the very insight, creativity and resolve we need to do what’s most important.

What if it was possible to turn that dynamic on its head? Watch the video below to find out how.


And if you’d like more tips and insights on how to turn your grandest visions and dreams into reality, click here to download my special report, Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead) and to receive additional tips and insights on an ongoing basis.

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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3 Tips for Stepping Bravely into Your Next Opportunity



Do you ever feel like you are on the verge of something you’re not sure you are ready for?

Perhaps you’ve been given a chance to do something you’ve always wanted to do, or you recognize a need that you have the unique ability to meet – but it requires that you step out of your comfort zone in order to do it.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve explored the mindset you’ll need to become what you most admire, and discussed the importance of allowing your vision to guide you. As you do those things, you’ll inevitably be presented with opportunities to make your vision real by moving from thought to action. And sometimes those opportunities will unnerve you.

This week’s video will give you three vital insights to help you move through your resistance and rise to those occasions in ways that bring satisfaction, fulfillment and growth.


And if you want more on how to take the kind of action necessary to make your vision a 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.

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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Last name:


Are Your Habits Hurting You?

domino question - Free Digital PhotosWe all aim to develop good routines.  But most of us have a few habits that cause problems too.  Maybe it’s the way your temper flares when people don’t do what you want them to.  Perhaps it’s a tendency to turn the other way when things get stressful – to go bury your head in the sand or find something to do that keeps you from having to address issues.  Maybe it’s your inclination to take so many things on that you are running yourself ragged, or a habit of staying in your comfort zone instead of taking the bold leaps you dream about in your quiet hours.

Sometimes even good habits reach a point where they no longer serve you all that well, like the habit of diving into the details after you’ve just been made a leader of leaders who really needs to rely on others to do that for you.   But we tend to hang onto those routine ways of doing things long after they have outlived their value.  Not because they are particularly gratifying, but because they are comfortable and familiar.

Habits act as defaults. We do them without having to think much at all.  They are ingrained behaviors that we revert to when things get stressful, and they have a way of taking over and putting us on autopilot.

There may come a time, though, when habits that never really used to be a problem start making some waves in your life.  They may hurt your effectiveness on the job, or your ability to really connect with others.  They could keep you playing small instead of really stepping into and realizing your potential and living your dreams.  And sometimes they become painful.

I am a runner.  I don’t train and sign up for marathons or anything.  I just do it to clear my head and release tension – and because it makes me feel good.  When I first started running, I just wanted to be able to go for awhile without getting too tired.  I was happy when I managed to get off my butt and just get outside.  Then I started to run a little longer.  And then gradually a little faster.

But the more intensely I did things the way I had always done them, the more I began to notice that I was having pain.  My hips hurt.  My shins were stiff.  There were periods where the discomfort became so intense that I had to lay off running for awhile until my body healed.  And then I noticed it wasn’t long before I was having some kind of pain again.  It was a little maddening.

Interestingly enough, one of my new clients, Nicole Armbrust, is a physical therapist who works with runners to improve efficiency and prevent injury.  She encouraged me to have an assessment.  I was a little hesitant.  Really?  Do I really want someone to tell me about all the things that I should be doing differently?  Do I really want to change something that for the most part was making me feel so good?  The next time I went running and began to feel that familiar stiffness that I knew would morph into  throbbing later, I realized it was time for a change – even though I knew it would not necessarily be a comfortable one.

Nicole examined how my muscles and ligaments worked.  She listened intently as I told her about my history and all my injuries.    She videotaped me walking.  And then running.  And then she had me try some stretches and other exercises.  Alas, many of the things I was afraid of were true.  The strides I was taking were too long.  I was landing on the wrong part of my foot.  One of my hips was tighter than the other, causing me to overcompensate – which of course was adding to my injuries.

She gave me a metronome, which she believes will help correct a large percentage of my problems.  Apparently, much of what I really need to do to correct 95% of my problems is run to a faster beat, which would lead me to take smaller strides and push off and land on the right parts of my feet.

The first time I tried it, I hated it.  It was unnatural.  And I couldn’t just slip into my zone and forget about what my body was doing.  It was an effort to keep my feet hitting the ground that fast.  And my faithful running buddy, a golden retriever named Bellissima, was thrown off too.  “What the heck?”  I could swear that was going through her head when she looked up at me with those big brown eyes of hers.  I was right there with her.

But the more I practiced with that new way of doing things, the less pain I have had, and the faster I can run.  I can run longer and more often.  And I am enjoying myself again.

I think life is a little like that.  Often we don’t seek help until things begin to hurt us.  And though it’s kind of sad that we wait until things become painful to try something different – it is often just the springboard we need to find better ways of doing and being.

Maybe your last temper explosion led people to no longer want to support you, and you are ready to figure out ways of better channeling your anger.  Perhaps the things you were avoiding came to a head in a less than optimal way that made things even more unpleasant and you want to keep that from happening again.  Maybe you have totally burned yourself out and are starting to realize that there has to be a better way of doing things.  Or perhaps the window of opportunity you have been carefully planning and preparing for closed before you dared to act on it and you’re tired of missing out.

When your habits begin to hurt you, you get to decide what you are going to do about them. It’s a crossroads that can be challenging – because though you might be experiencing pain and discomfort with your habit, it likely will seem as though anything you might need to do differently will be even worse.  And that is the root of resistance.

But what I have found through my own experience, as well as that of so many others – friends, clients, colleagues – is that the pain caused by resistance is far worse than anything it would have you avoid.

Maybe you don’t need to wait until it comes to a head.  We all have habits that no longer serve us.  And you already likely know what habit (or habits) are bringing you down.  So the question is, what are you going to do about it?

PinocchioPrincipleIn my next post, I’ll write about how to change the habits that hurt you.  If you want some support changing bad habits, you might want to consider working with a coach.  For more information on executive and leadership coaching, visit https://dianebolden.com/coaching.html or or contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call. And if you are more of a “do it yourselfer”, check out my new video program, On the Road to Real or pick up a copy of my book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.

If you are interested in a running assessment, click here to find out more about Nicole Armbrust or contact her at n.armbrust@spoonerphysicaltherapy.com.

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s a Stretch – Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”   ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When was the last time you stretched yourself? I mean literally, physically stretched yourself?

Girl doing yoga - Free Digital Photos - AmbroIt wasn’t that long ago that I had trouble touching my toes. I started doing yoga, and in one of the classes I attended we were asked to bend our bodies in a somewhat unusual way. The instructor effortlessly folded herself in half while I leaned slightly forward and came to an abrupt halt. It wasn’t really pain that I experienced as much as plain old discomfort. I wanted this part of the class to be over.

We were told to relax and breathe. Everything inside of me resisted even the idea of this crazy position that was the furthest thing from what I thought I or any other reasonable human being would consider restful. My muscles were tense and my body felt like it was in a knot. But I did my best to follow the directions – relax and breathe into it.

And as I did, a funny thing happened. After a short time, my muscles seemed to soften in spite of themselves, and I found myself gradually dropping more deeply into the stretch. The longer I held it, the (dare I say?) better it felt, until I was actually kind of enjoying this strange new sensation.

And then the thought occurred to me that this whole process is analogous to doing something – anything – that takes us out of our comfort zone.

We see something that beckons, perhaps something that we know will be good for us, and yet we resist. Often we move tentatively into it and then hit a wall of discomfort. In this discomfort a myriad of unsettling thoughts and fears barrage us – “I’m no good at this…,” “this was a bad idea…” “I’m wasting my time…” and on and on. And the resistance itself seems to intensify the discomfort. We tighten up, literally and figuratively, and block ourselves from moving into the experience.

But if we can remain patient and open – if we can allow ourselves this initial period of discomfort and stay present with it, relaxing into it and breathing through it, we might be surprised at the results we experience. Think of the last time you tried something really different – something new and exciting and kind of terrifying all at the same time. If you stayed with it despite your initial resistance, chances are that over time the discomfort gave way to exhilaration and over more time, perhaps deep gratification. And the longer you kept at it, the easier and more satisfying it became.

Oprah WinfreyWe are all capable of so much more than we realize, and I believe now more than ever we are beginning to see that that it is time for us to stand taller, to reach higher, and to be willing to open ourselves up to allow our greatest work to emerge. Do not be fooled into thinking that going outside of your comfort zone is merely a self serving exercise that can wait until you have more confidence or time. In fact, there is no better way to increase your confidence than by taking this kind of action in spite of your fear and discomfort. This kind of courageous exploration enriches not only ourselves, but everyone around us who will surely benefit from the gifts we uncover and give form to. When we shrink, we cheat more than just ourselves. And when we expand, we allow ourselves to truly lead – in whatever form that leadership will take.

As leaders, we cannot expect others to stretch themselves if we are not willing to do it first. We must allow ourselves to be humbled and vulnerable so that we can identify with and understand the experiences we ask others to participate in. And we need to be patient and supportive with them as they encounter and work through their own forms of resistance.

What can you do today to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone? And how can you apply what you learn to make you a stronger, more influential and transformational leader?

PinocchioPrincipleThe above article contains excerpts from my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Photo by Ambro.

Overcoming the Illusion of Fear

karate_3 - sxchu - hisksAlmost exactly two years ago, I had a karate belt test that pushed me beyond my limits.  I wrote an article called Tapping Your Reserves that captured what took place as well as the lessons I learned as a result.  But reflecting back on that experience now, I realize that in the months that passed, I ended up learning more than I initially realized.

Here’s an excerpt of that article, depicting that experience:

Waiting outside the dojo adjusting my mouthpiece like a horse trying to acclimate to its first bit, I quietly prepared myself, breathing slowly and deeply. After my name was called, I was ushered into a circle of black belts standing around a plastic red padded floor until I stood face to face with my opponent – one of the toughest, most intense sensei’s I have encountered as a martial arts student. Our heads were swallowed up by the protective foam of our sparring gear, exposing only eyes, cheeks, noses and lips.

After bowing to each other, we began to spar. I threw a few of the punches I’d practiced every week in karate class and managed to get some kicks in. But for every strike I made, it seemed my sensei threw at least three more. I continued to circle, launching a few more tentative jabs here and there. The black belts surrounding us were shouting encouragement, their voices merging into chords of indistinguishable tones. And then I felt a sharp blow to my face. I instinctively curled toward my stomach and felt a burst of fluid that was not yet visible. When the blood appeared, the sparring session was stopped and a hand appeared with a wad of Kleenex in it.

As I cautiously dabbed at my nose and wiped my eyes, someone asked me if I wanted to continue. I heard myself say yes. Squinting through the sweat that was dripping from my forehead and feeling my heart beating in my face, I raised my gloved fists higher and took a few more shots. Before I knew it, I was taken to the ground. I was vaguely aware that there was at least one, maybe two other black belts in the sparring match now. As I grappled on the ground, fatigue set in. I struggled to escape the choke hold, forgetting everything I had learned and feeling like a spider’s prey wriggling and writhing to escape while the grip became tighter. And then, thankfully, that part of the test was over.

I wrote the Tapping Your Reserves article to process that experience and make the most of it.  Ironically, despite the insights I gained, in the months that followed I found myself feeling far more fear about what happened than I did on the day that I got punched in the nose.  The experience became exaggerated in my mind, a horribly warped version much like the image reflected by a fun house mirror.  The sense of accomplishment I enjoyed after having completed the test was replaced by a fixation on what it felt like to be trapped with no recollection of how to escape.  I felt the blow to my face over and over again as I replayed the events in my mind.  And it was far more painful in my memory than it was in reality.

fire head - freedigitalphotos - salvatore vuonoWhat is amusing to me is that often fear like this comes before an event – as I see in my mind’s eye all manner of things that could go wrong and then magnify it until it becomes a mental picture so horrid that I would do anything to avoid it.  But this time, I was using a somewhat fictional account of an actual event to work myself into a frenzy that led me to avoid the future based on a past that was more imaginary than real.  After all, when given the choice on the day of the test, I decided to jump back in and keep going after getting hit.  My hesitance about the whole thing didn’t really set in until after it was over.

As my kids’ team practices and dance rehearsals began to conflict with karate classes, I was secretly a little grateful that shuttling them from school to field to court to studio prevented me from attending with the regularity I once did. God forbid I would be asked to test again – to spar again.  No, not an experience I was eager to repeat.  Every time anyone referenced sparring in karate class, I felt a shudder go down my spine.  The idea of even putting protective gear on made me nauseous.  I became overly concerned with playing safe – doing whatever I could to avoid getting hit again.  But I knew at some point I would need to get over it and get back in the game.

Gradually I got tired of being scared, of holding myself back, of playing in the shadows.  I was still afraid, but found myself growing more and more eager to face those fears and step into them.  I began to pay careful attention in the strategy sessions that were being offered.  I started to envision a different scenario than the one I was previously playing out in my head.  And I even attended a special open sparring class just so that I could put myself in the experience of facing an opponent and replacing my fear with the tiniest shred of confidence I could muster.

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to test again.  I accepted.  The test is this Saturday.

I’m nervous.  I’d like to be a little more prepared, and I realize that no matter how much I practice, the fear will still be thereBut I don’t need to give into it.  I just need to stand in its presence without letting it grip and control me.  And I think no matter what happens in this test – even if I get knocked out  cold or do something incredibly embarrassing, I will be victorious.  Because the real battle I am fighting is with myself.   And it’s not just a sparring match.  It is a metaphor for overcoming resistance (and the illusion it creates) that keeps me from doing what I really want to do in all areas of my life.

In the end, the pain of holding out and playing small became far greater than the physical pain I can recall from the event that provoked the fear in the first place – perhaps far greater than any fear my little mind can conjure up.  Enough already.  I’m ready to play.

Bring it on, baby.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important.”  ~ Ambrose Redmoon

For more on Overcoming the Illusion of Fear:

The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be PinocchioPrinciple

Skiing Into (and Through) Fear

Surviving and Thriving in Change and Chaos

A Strategy for Overcoming Fear

A New Way to Look at Fear

Karate image by Kriss Szkurlatowski.

Fire head image by Salvatore Vuono.