My son and I were on our way to karate class when the instrument panel of my car flashed, Cruise Control Inoperative. Without hesitation I immediately went into problem solving mode, instructing my son to retrieve the owner's manual from the glove compartment, to look up the problem.
And then in a moment, that I really can't explain - I had an insight that maybe there was no problem with the car, but instead the universe was sending me a message to get out of cruise control in my life.
I posed the possibility of this being a message from the universe to my son, he was intrigued by the idea. Immediately the energy in the car shifted. We were no longer tense and upset about this "problem," we now had become curious as to where we might be doing things automatically, without conscious thought in our own lives.
So consider consciously making cruise control in your own life inoperative and begin to notice what shows up.
Last week, the guest speaker of SheForward (http://discoverpls.com/index.php/calendar)
shared one of her favorite quotes: “To thine own self be true…”, William Shakespeare.
This in follow-up to the question: What advice would you give a young manager beginning to develop their leadership style? Her response, be yourself, be genuine, be authentic.
I have to admit, it’s easy to veer off the path of authentic leadership. The desire to stay relevant in our professional lives drives the need for constant growth and personal development. It’s easy to lose ourselves in the “what we should be doing” and “who we should be being”.
I have 3 ideas about how to lead from the real me (and the real you):
1.Check in with clearly defined values. Think about the last time you felt some internal conflict. It’s usually a result of a something bumping heads with a core value.
2.Embrace (and not always adopt) differences in styles – just because it’s right for one doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for another (even if it’s published in a book, presented at a conference, or found on the internet!).
3.Listen to our intuitive self. While it’s important to challenge the discomfort of change, let’s also trust our own internal “higher coach” (yes, we ALL have one).
So that’s how I feel about authentic leadership. How are you ensuring authentic leadership?
While watching both of my children diligently perform their homework one evening, I couldn't help but conclude that homework provides each of us with our initial leadership practices.
Practice is defined as repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency. And as students of life, just as students in school we need to be consistent with our practice to manifest the intended results. One reason ongoing practice is important is because the body of knowledge regarding most any topic is constantly changing and growing - what got us here, won't get us there.
We need to be aware of and open to new ways of being and in order to internalize these new ways, we must be willing to engage in regular practice.
I define regular as daily and emphasize an integrated approach - which means practicing with the body, mind, spirit, and heart. I suggest a minimum of 90 minutes per day as a good starting point for practice in order to make it an internalized habit. Practices include meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, and spending quality time with key relationships.
So what are you waiting for? The best way to get started is to start.
Think about a time when you felt most free.When was it? What were your life circumstances? For me it was during my college days. Although I didn't own much then, in fact everything I did own fit comfortably into the 1968 Chevelle that I inherited from my grandfather. But this was a time when I was free to dream, free to go, free to choose whether I attend class or not.
It was a time of seemingly unlimited opportunity. While the job market wasn't great, that didn't seem to worry me much or take up any emotional or psychological space. Things worked out for most of us, probably because most of us were trusting the process of life.
It wasn't until a few years after college that I started to collect things and started the process of eroding my freedom. I collected all kinds of material things; cars, apartments, houses, bigger houses, nicer cars, and lots and lots of other stuff. The more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to keep track of, insure, and worry about. The more space I had as measured by square footage, the less space I had as measure by freedom.
So when am I going to start getting it? The next job, or house, or car, or boat, can never and has never ever given me what I already have - me.
I’m done with feeling guilty! I’ve discovered that feeling guilty is really about a limiting belief I’m holding about myself, others, a situation or an event. It’s a fictitious expectation – a bar I’ve set that’s unsubstantiated.
Here’s a new twist: guilt is a reminder that something has temporarily clouded the vision of who I want to be. Starting today, I will challenge guilt with three questions:
What do I believe to be true? (the expectation, the assumption, the bar)
What evidence substantiates (or not) this belief?
What adjustment is this guilt reminding me to make?
Do I hear an AMEN!
Perhaps my interest in meditation started with my own need to slow down and sit still and to just develop more patience for what is. Or maybe it is rooted in my need to be a peaceful being. But in the end my intention is to assist myself and others to gain perspective.
Sometimes in my search for health, happiness, and well being, I tend to make it more complicated and more difficult than it needs to be. So lately I have been focused on just a few things, each day and each week, that help keep me grounded.
MEDITATE - MOVE - MINGLE
MEDITATE - To sit quietly and do nothing, just for a few minutes, not with the goal of becoming more enlightened, but practicing heightened awareness.
MOVE - To exercise the body in ways that keep us flexible, strong, and fit.
MINGLE - To interact with others. We are social beings and socializing greases the skids for effective interdependence.
So each day have the intention to set aside time to meditate, move, and mingle and begin to notice how it almost imperceptibly helps your being and doing.
I was observing some casual conversation recently where everyone is doing great. The business is great, the family is doing well, just returned from a wonderful vacation, blah, blah, blah..... While I am confident that some of what people were exchanging was true, each of the interactions seemed to lack some level of authenticity. It is almost as if it is not okay for things to be not okay.
In my many years of coaching, it has become clear to me that many of us have not made friends with "what is" very often. We are so taken with the way we want things to be or think they should be that we have lost touch with reality. We spin it, explain it, and sanitize it so much that we are unable to recognize our true feelings. We keep moving so fast, continually spinning our story, that we often lose sight of who and where we are.
Somewhere along the line, we got sold a a bill of goods that in order to be happy you need to feel good all the time. While this is an excellent intention, part of really, really, feeling good means feeling everything. Lean into all of the feelings and sensations that you experience as you navigate through life. Pretending that any of these feelings do not exist causes us to get stuck and prevents us from making friends with the present moment.
Lately, I have been intrigued by a concept that a coach on our team used during a recent strategic planning session. "The answer to how is Yes!"
I have been noticing with myself how often I begin thinking of all the answers to the "how" questions. When a new idea or concept comes into play I start with the endless "to do" lists or all the "shoulds". They come tumbling out of in my thoughts and often in my conversations.
Whether it be a personal situation or a work related situation how could it feel if we just believed that we would figure out the "how". Basically, put one foot in front of the other and just get started. We do not need to figure it all out. If the why and the what we are doing are very clear, be confident that the how will emerge.
"Become confident in the not knowing and the knowing will emerge"
I was having a conversation with a client recently regarding the topic of initiative. We were wondering about the ways in which we could create conditions by which people would take initiative. We kicked around a lot of ideas when it occurred to me that what I am looking for in people is for them to do whatever it takes.
Often when we think of doing whatever it takes we immediately go to working longer or working harder. And while that certainly can be the answer in some situations, doing whatever it takes, means just that. It is doing whatever is necessary for you and the situation that moment in time.
It could mean working late to meet a deadline, or leaving early to make a commitment you made to one of your loved ones. It could mean sleeping-in or getting up a few hours earlier. Maybe it means taking your full vacation this year or at least being willing to take a few days or a few hours off to gain the necessary perspective. It might mean asking for help or reaching out to someone who is in need of help.
It does not come with any pat answer, but is adaptable to the situation that is right in front of us at this time. It knows no rules or authority, the task or the relationship becomes the boss. Set the intention to do whatever it takes and trust your values and your intuition to guide you appropriately.
"Gifted leadership occurs where heart and head - feeling and thought - meet. These are the two wings that allow a leader to soar." - quote from Primal Leadership, Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence", Daniel Goleman.
I believe there's a natural tendency in all of us to lean more into the thought of leadership, leading from the head, and not so much from the heart, feeling side. Our heart will most likely reveal our vulnerabilities. OMgosh, how could someone be an effective leader if we share feelings?!
I recently had a conversation with an executive who I consider a great leader. He told me that in front of over 100 employees and colleagues, he admitted his gremlim - the internal voice in all of us that says "I'm not good enough".
I received an email from a leader of a non-profit reporting about her experience visiting with particpants of one of the organization's programs. She wrote about how her heart was filled with joy and how inspired she felt after attending.
Over lunch with a friend who is a leader in the banking industry, he shared his belief that the best way to become a strong leader is to truly understand what motivates people at their core, from their heart.
Here are three successful individuals who are spreading their wings, leading with heart and head, feeling and thought. I'd love to hear more stories about how leaders are spreading their wings. Would you share your story?
Inspired action is action that is derived from the "why." It is strongly linked and influenced by our purpose and passions or reasons for being. It does not have to be a BIG step, but it does have to be a step forward, a baby step if you will. Think of it as something that is just right in front of you - the next thing.
Some tools or practices that can be utilized for taking inspired action include:
And, we must keep in mind that the reason that we are not doing what we said we want to do is because we are doing something else instead. What else are you doing and why? This question provides an excellent opportunity to use journaling as a way of heightening your awareness as to where you are focusing your attention and energy.
A question that may be useful to reflect upon is - "How do I stop what is stopping me?"
Begin by focusing on what you want and making sure why you want it.
I read an article in the Sunday paper a few weeks back titled “The world is your oyster – if you pry it open”, written by Bruce Ramsey of The Seattle Times. He begins with advice to graduates, "Some time in your life, live outside the United States. Not only will you be in another world, you will more clearly see the world you came from, and who you are.” I’m intrigued! And so I decide to test out his theory. But I needed to improvise a bit because I don’t have plans to leave the country anytime soon. While on vacation out of state, I tried to see the world that I came from and discover something new about who I am. Here’s what I found. First, my world. New York state has some beautifully, well-maintained roads. The next time I’m delayed by road construction, I vow to replace feelings of frustration with a happy wave to the roadside crew…thumbs up! Now, to me. I consider myself to be a fairly open-minded and objective person...but maybe there's room for improvement. I’d like to get better at remembering that the way I do things isn’t the only way of doing things. And just because I believe things should look or be a certain way doesn’t mean that a different approach couldn’t be just as (or even more) effective. The next time you are outside of your usual elements, take a look back at your world and what’s inside. What a great way to explore….let me know what you find!
My mama bear spirit surfaced this weekend. And, she was in full attack mode. Protective of her cub, the claws came out and the teeth were gnashed! And yet, my cub was fine...in fact, he was better than his mother.
How do we reconcile the "less than perfect" facets of ourselves with our vision of how we want to be? There are growing pains. Are we wrong to bring to light a perceived injustice? Or is it just the filter through which we view the situation? The deciding factor, in my opinion, is the effect it will have on our integrity, our authenticity and the people that we value. My lesson was two-fold - I know that I will do anything, or nothing at all, to support my children depending on their needs. And, once again, it was made clear to me that a relationship can only be forged, in any situation, from respect, trust and mutual collaboration.
Is it really any different in the professional world? As leaders, we must know when to support and when to allow our people to find their own way. More importantly, we need to understand that an empowering relationship is never based on position and/or authority, rather trust and rapport.
As coaches, we speak alot about the importance of energy renewal in four important areas: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. In training, we brainstorm about different options for each. When we coach individuals, we continually go back to "what are you doing to renew yourself?". We personally commit to renewing ourselves in each area as well.
On very rare occasions, I have the opportunity to experience renewal in all four areas at one time. That experience is cathartic. For 1-2 hours every so often, I engage in an activity where I feel physically strong, mentally challenged, emotionally connected and spirtually guided all at the same time. In that time, I am my most creative, abundant, intelligent and authentic self! How lucky we are to have these "perfect" moments!
Where are your opportunities to create these moments for yourself? How do you build on the smaller energy renewal successes to create that same feeling on a regular basis?
Making anything stick requires going beyond the intellectual understanding to embodying the change through constant practice. It is with practice that we move through the four levels of learning ultimately ending up at the level of unconscious competence.
At this level of unconscious competence, we have created the neural connections in such a way that we do not need to consciously think about it, it's automatic, So don't pick too many things to make stick. Focus on just a few things so that you can invest enough time practicing that it eventually becomes automatic.
I was recently shaken by some tragic news. And while not all that familiar with the facts leading to this tragic event, I couldn't help but think of how many of us are battling silent demons each day. Sometimes these battles are so troubling that it becomes so difficult to look inside that we are tempted to keep ourselves busy with a host of activities.We focus on achieving in the physical world perhaps in an attempt to avoid dealing with the demons that haunt us from the inside. The more afraid we become of who we may be, we create walls and an illusion of who we think we are.
At the same time were are bumping up against a society who has been trained to make judgments. Many times these judgments are made with incomplete information. We are sometimes inclined to make judgements of others in our attempt not to look at ourselves and what we are capable of being or doing.
So what does all this mean? I am not really sure, but I think it is to encourage me, and all of us for that matter, to fully feel the range of emotions associated with the trials and tribulations of daily life.
Much of leadership success is based on one's ability to recognize the context of a situation and to adapt your behavior accordingly. Context agility is critical to long-term leadership success.
Context is also critically important in life success. Content without context is a sure recipe for failure and is the reason that many time management techniques just don't work. People are looking for ways to get more things into what for many of them is an already full schedule. They are looking for the next gadget or gimmick that will give them those few extra minutes to get one more thing done. But ultimately they just end up chasing their tails. While there is no quick fix, there is an easy answer to be, do, and have everything that you want. The answer is weekly planning.
I was introduced to this concept many years ago by the FranklinCovey organization and have since refined my own system of weekly planning that has yielded tremendous results. Weekly planning fills the void that many of our clients seem to have, the context or direction for all of their activities, planned or otherwise. It helps bridge the gap between their long-term vision and their day-to-day activities. in effect it helps us to "slow down to go faster."
Weekly planning starts with a review of your purpose and values and may even include a glimpse of your vision board if you have one. This review creates the proper context for drawing up your weekly plan. The next step is setting or reviewing your intentions and/or affirmations. This step signals your intentions to the universe and begins to attract vibrations that are in harmony with your intentions. From there it is important to plan and schedule renewal activities,daily and weekly renewal in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives. Energy renewal often gets sacrificed for "getting things done," however we need higher resonating energy to attract our intentions. The last context setting activity is the setting of VITAL goals. VITAL goals are; Verifiable, Inspiring, Time-Bound, Actionable, and Limitless. Two or three VITAL goals per week are more than enough.
Once you have invested time in creating the context for your week, now it is time to block out time to spend supporting your intentions, renewal, and goals. It is important that your actions and choices be in alignment with your purpose and values. Lastly ask yourself the question - "What can I delegate, automate, or eliminate from my schedule?"
As you commit to this weekly leadership practice you will ultimately become unconsciously competent in reaching your dreams and goals.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. And the most important thing that needs changing from time to time is our thinking, While behavior and action are important, they are not even close to being as important as your thoughts and feelings.
It is these thoughts and feelings that inhibit or enhance future growth and development. Unfortunately these thoughts are so deeply ingrained that they cause us to become consistently unconsciously incompetent.
So it is imperative that if we want to change and succeed we must be willing to learn and unlearn some things that are no longer resourceful or perhaps were never resourceful in the first place.
Pay close attention to who and what you are listening to. Are the people you are listening to successful in the areas that you are listening to them in?
Ask yourself some important questions:
What is it that you want and more importantly why do you want it?
Once you have answered these questions begin to research who has done what you intend on doing, really, really well. Find them and begin modelling their thoughts and habits.
I was re-listening to a course that I participated in a few years ago with Jerry Stocking. The subject of the course was intuition, an area that I was intending on developing or connecting with more strongly.
I had what seemed to be many "aha" moments throughout the three day course, however the concept that I resonated with the most was that of being open to opening. The idea that having a predisposition to anything in particular leaves everything else out, was revolutionary as well as a bit mind boggling. By constantly trying to anticipate, think of, or predict what's next, I was preventing any opportunity or opening to notice the intuitive nudges that surrounded me all of the time.
It took me awhile to get myself comfortable with the idea that I was either so consumed with stuff and plans that I was unable to hear my intuition or when I did actually create enough space for it to surface - it was extremely inconvenient to what I had planned.
Experiment with creating more space in your life and then notice and appreciate the wonderful gift of intuition