Psychological Contract

I’ve been working with a city government who is going through some pretty significant changes. They are going through a major re-organization, and of course, some people are experiencing layoffs.I was coaching a department director whose position may be eliminated. He was very uneasy about his future and even more importantly, he was devastated at the thought of his thirty years of service suddenly ending. He thought the City would take care of him in exchange for his tri-decade loyalty. He felt extremely let down, devastated, and was shocked that the City he loved so much would do this to him.Enter, the psychological contract. We often times enter into a psychological contract with our employers unconsciously. These contracts are built on unspoken expectations. We’re not even aware that we’ve formed these contract. But don’t let that fool you…just because we are not aware of these psychological contracts, does not mean they don’t exist.To the contrary - the greater the lack of awareness we have around these contracts, the greater the hold it has on us.Our psychological contracts are like a love affair. We give so much to our organization in this relationship. We work hard for this relationship. We don’t sleep, we hardly make time to eat, and we are almost always thinking about this relationship. How can we give more? How can we please more?When there is a breach in the contract, the employee/employer relationship can quickly erode and this is where disengagement sets in. It’s like a break up. Our expectations were not met.We need to manage expectations with ourselves and our team members. We can do this upfront with interviewing, onboarding, reinforcing it during orientation and training, and periodically throughout the year.A very simple expectation could be that I’m going to give my all to this organization, my expertise, my experience, and my knowledge, and in return they are going to give me a paycheck every two weeks.Hmmmm that simplifies it.When did you experience a breach in your psychological contract? How did you handle it? As always, I love to hear from you.With Love and To Your Success,Maria

5 Types of Power in Leadership

Power is a hot topic. Not all power is equal. In this video, I review the five types of power in leadership, how shared power can make followers uncomfortable, and some considerations you will be able to apply going forward.We have been taught for too long, to let others define our thoughts, feelings, jobs, lives, and meaning for us. What to think, what to wear, how to feel—is it any wonder we get nervous when we receive permission or power to make decisions or design aspects of our lives for ourselves?Like anything else in this world, all forms of power can be for the greater good or for selfish and egoic purposes. As we review these five types of power, consider your former bosses and your own leadership style as you prepare to better define what kind of leader you choose to become.I would love to hear from you. What is your go-to type of power and why?With love,Maria

Truth & Transparency

We must learn to honor ourselves with truth.By being honest with ourselves and not allowing others’ non-truths into our psyche, we acknowledge that we love and respect ourselves.By respecting ourselves, we don’t accept other’s false realities. Iyanla Vanzant recognized that, for most of us, it isn’t difficult to tell when someone isn’t being truthful with us; the challenge is how to call them on their non-truth. She suggested we reply, “While that may sound truthful to you, it doesn’t feel truthful to me.”What a great line! When we are truthful and transparent with ourselves, we remember our divine nature and we do not let anyone treat us with a lack of respect or dignity.I’d love to hear your experiences, tell me about a time where you had an expectation not met and you had to work in truth and transparency to solve the situation?With love,Maria

Go Forth and Delegate

For many of the leaders I work with, delegation is a real struggle. Leaders resist delegating because we are so accustomed to doing the work ourselves. Many times, fear will rear its ugly head, thinking that if we want the work done correctly, we must do it ourselves. And then there is the time issue of communicating and training others to complete the task for us.Ahhh, but the benefits of delegation far outweigh the negativity that surrounds this illusive skill. When we delegate, we have more time for our high-priority tasks and we actually get to experience the joy of completing our tasks! Delegation increases our productivity and is a much better use of our resources.  Delegation gives us freedom.True, there are some tasks best kept to ourselves such as personal matters, confidential activities, crises, and activities that are specifically delegated to us. However, we can delegate paperwork, routine tasks, technical matters, tasks with developmental potential, and employee problems.Since we are not born with the delegation gene, we must learn this skill. It’s not as hard as you think! Just follow these four simple steps and you will be delegating before you know it:

  1. Explain the need for delegating, including the reasons why you selected that person to complete the task.
  2. Clearly set the objectives defining responsibility, level of authority, and deadlines.
  3. Develop a plan to achieve objectives, resources, and give the authority necessary to obtain those resources.
  4. Establish an accountability plan with checkpoints.

Which step is trickiest for you?Now go forth, delegate, and prosper!With love,Maria

With or Without Meaning?

Did you know the majority of heart attacks occur around nine o’clock on Monday mornings?One study showed that the most common factor in these heart attacks was that the victims were people whose work had become joyless striving. In other words, they could not find meaning in their work, and their lives had become so out of balance that, one Monday morning, their bodies said, “You are not going to work today. Zap.”1I remember a discussion I had with the general manager of a regional division, discussing with him the importance of finding meaning in work for our employees and leaders. His response was, “I think meaning at work is over-rated.” Overrated? We spend the vast majority of our adult lives at work.One of the primary purposes of a leader is to inspire vision and motivation in those he or she leads, and few things are more inspiring and motivating than meaningful work.If we don’t have meaning…what do we have? We must know the “why” behind the things we do, we are at unrest and certainly unmotivated.As always, I welcome your input. What is the most meaningful aspect of your job and why?With love,Maria1. J. A .Autrey, & S. Mitchell, Real power: Business lessons from the Tao Te Ching (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998), p. 23.

Is the F-word Killing Your Organization

I spoke at a professional organization state conference, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) about the destructive nature of the f-word… FEAR in our organizations.In my presentation, I incorporated some very important statistics from a survey conducted by SHRM at the national level. I revealed some serious challenges that our local and global organizations will likely face over the next ten years. Here are some of the highlights from that study:

  • Top 3 challenges are retaining and rewarding the best employees, developing the next generation of leaders, and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees
  • 43% of HR professionals indicated that obtaining human capital (us) and optimizing human capital investments would be their biggest challenge
  • Most critical competencies include business acumen, organizational leadership, relationship management, and communication
  • Most effective tactics to rewarding employees include flexible work arrangements; creating an organizational culture where leadership demonstrates and emphasizes trust, open communication, and fairness; opportunities for career advancement; demonstrating commitment to employee development; and providing meaningful work with clear purpose in meeting organization objectives.

This is an eye-opening list as the focus is all about the people: developing the people, creating a culture that lifts up the people, and providing the environment for people to connect their head and heart. All of this points to the need to tap into their passion with meaning.However, one seemingly small act of injecting fear into the culture can have the effect of killing innovation, loyalty, and growth in a split-second. Fear is tricky because it has been the corporate “go-to” strategy for years, and we learned and we were taught how to “lead” with fear. True, fear will motivate people in a direction. But, be aware that using fear as a motivational tool comes with a price. The price of using that nasty “f-word” fear is:

  • Robs people of potential
  • Barrier of individual and organizational performance
  • Affects individual and organizational quality of life
  • Shifts focus away from productivity and innovation to CYA (cover your assets)
  • Destroys trust and loyalty
  • Causes silence and uncertainty. Just because people are not saying anything does not mean they have nothing to say.
  • Kills long-term motivation and commitment
  • Increases stress
  • Grows resistance
  • Shuts down ability to think creatively, collaborate, and bring passion/meaning to the job
  • People check out (both literally and figuratively)

Is fear killing your organization?With love,Maria

Comfortably Uncomfortable

As a leadership coach, I am always excited when a powerful question or statement crosses my path or better yet, slams me in the face! Yesterday, I had such an encounter. Seth Godin got my attention when he stated, “If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader”. He was talking about the discomfort we sometimes feel as a leader and furthermore, when we identify the discomfort, we’ve found a place where leadership is needed. His list includes:

  • Standing up in front of strangers
  • Proposing an idea that may fail
  • Challenging the status quo
  • Resisting the urge to settle

I DO love those moments that move me out of my comfort zone and into what I call a “seat squirming” state. I know when I start squirming, I am onto to something, and that something is usually growth!Of course, I also like to state things in a positive frame, so my list may look something like:

  • Motivating people in the direction of a shared goal
  • Creating and innovating with others, living in a synergy zone
  • Thinking outside the box and trying something that “hasn’t been done before”
  • Pushing myself and others to live in creativity and authenticity, even when it may be more work

My list not only feels good when I put it on, but it moves me beyond comfort to electric energy.What are your thoughts? Comfortable? Discomfort? What would you add to the list?As always, I truly appreciate your insight.With love,Maria

The Other F-Word

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Women in Action conference. I discussed the impact that the F-word is having on our relationships, families, teams, organizations, and communities.The F-word we discussed was FEAR. We can re-frame fear, looking at it from different lenses. One of my favorite ways to think of fear is as an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. At the conference, I also shared how leading with love guides us out of the fear in which we are deeply immersed, especially during these times of fear-based thinking and living. Love is still stronger than fear every day of the week.During a panel discussion with three extraordinary women leaders in the community from local government, financial services, and higher education, we discussed the other F-word – failure. When asked about their biggest failure, I was pleasantly surprised at their responses. Each one, in their own way expressed a belief that they do not experience failure. In fact, they do not even use that F-word!One stated that she does not believe in failure, only opportunities for growth. Another stated that she too, does not look at “mistakes” as failure. Instead, she simply acknowledges a mistake. Wow, how empowering this way of thinking is for learning, humility, and perseverance – all of which are outstanding leadership qualities! When we fully embrace “failure” as a growth opportunity and a decision that did not work out, it immediately frees us to think of another decision that could give us a better result.This is not rocket science.This frame is actually quite simple, and simple is profound. I am so grateful to be introduced to this liberating way of thinking. Oh, how I love to learn! Thank you ladies, for sharing your insight.How much different would our lives be if we would not get stuck in failure and only empowered by making a better decision?With love,Maria

Love and Trust

Love of Self, Love of Source, and Love of Others (the love-based leadership model) all require love, trust, and commitment to growth and development in the workplace. If trust and love are not ever-present, then fear-based decisions will result.“For centuries the human species has been discovering that it is the creator of its own reality, making the discovery, and retreating from it in disappointment (because the wizard [referring to the Wizard of Oz story] is not what we expected) and in fear (because the freedom the discovery brings is unknown and terrifying).”1.Fear is powerful; so powerful that it alone creates a false reality of that which is feared in the first place. Victor Frankl illustrates, “It is characteristic of this fear that it produces precisely that of which the patient is afraid…the wish is father to the thought…the fear is mother to the event.”2.Once again, choice is everywhere, calling for a decision between choosing love to guide us or fear to guide us. “Man is not born slave or free, but creates himself as one or the other through free or voluntary action.”3.Fear, again, holds us back from achieving so much. We are afraid to show that we care, afraid to open our hearts, and afraid that we may appear vulnerable. The irony in this is that when we really care about the individuals we lead, love multiplies. When people know, see, and feel that you care—they do the same. “Love really does keep on giving.”4.How do you give your love?With love,Maria

  1. Walter Truett Anderson, Reality Isn’t What it Used to Be (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990), p. 29.
  2. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 125
  3. Madan Sarup, An Introduction Guide to Post-structuralism and Postmodernism (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1993), p. 18.
  4. Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal, Leading with Soul, p. 88.

Dr. Martin Luther King On Leadership, Love, And Political Unrest

Ordinarily every January we celebrate the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—his life, his work, and his love. His most famous speech, “I Have a Dream” inspired us toward action for equality, justice, and love. From his masterful and inspirational orations, I’ve selected 11 key quotes on leadership that encourage me even now.I have a dream, too. In fact, I am sure you too, have a dream… and I venture to guess that it is similar to my dream…a collective dream. That dream is the radical, necessary, ubiquitous dream of shifting from a world steeped in fear, to a love-based world.I want to share with you some inspiring words from Dr. King and a great leadership lesson in the message:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Remember, it ALWAYS comes back to love, so why not just start with love?“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” As leaders, we must step out and up on faith, because what else do we REALLY have?“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” The time is NOW to return to our spiritual compass, guidance, and Source.“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Again, simply, LOVE.“A man can't ride your back unless it's bent.” Stand firm, erect in your power, and do not succumb to the fear of victimhood.“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” The call of a love-based leader…to serve others.“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Love-based leaders continue to grow, learn, and live in wisdom.“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Forgiveness, to give it and receive it is the POWER of LOVE.“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Speak up and out; show up and lead.“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” DO NOT die with the song of passion still in you.“The time is always right to do what is right.” … and the time is always right to love.

As always, I love to hear from you. What would you say is your favorite quote on love? Tag me on Facebook!With love,Maria

What Were You Thinking?

Thoughts are powerful; they are the seeds of ideas, beliefs, creativity, attitudes, knowledge, wisdom, and reality. Thoughts can be our best friends or our worst enemies. Not by happenstance do thoughts come to us; these powerful seeds come to us through choice. Choice and thoughts are action movements, directed by us, whether we are conscious of these activities or not. The key lies in awareness of these two incredible gifts—thoughts, and choices.Unconscious thoughts are just as powerful as thoughts steeped in awareness. Earl Nightingale, in The Strangest Secret, likened the mind to a fertile field with two planted seeds—one with corn and one with poisonous nightshade. Both seeds, watered and nurtured, grew—because to the field, the type of seeds planted did not matter.Our minds are the same way, growing whatever our attention plants and nurtures. I saw a sign the other day that stated ‘Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want.’ With the continued nurturing and care (attention) given to the seeds of worry, the source of worry will grow and become reality. That is how our minds work; we create our realities.In Thoughts & Feelings, Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning identify fifteen key groups of disempowering perspectives:

  • Filtering – Focusing on the negative details of a situation and filtering out all positive aspects.
  • Polarized Thinking – Seeing a situation as either good or bad, right, or wrong, perfect or a failure.
  • Over-generalization – Making a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence.
  • Mind Reading – Making assumptions about what people are feeling, why they are acting as they are, and how they feel about you.
  • Catastrophizing – Assuming the worst possible outcome will happen.
  • Personalization – Thinking that everything people do or say is a reaction to you.
  • Control Fallacy – Thinking that you are responsible for everyone or everything around you.
  • Fallacy of Fairness – Being resentful because you believe that everything in life should be fair.
  • Emotional Reasoning – Believing that what you feel is the truth. For example, if you feel unwise, it means that you are unwise.
  • Fallacy of Change – Believing that you can’t be happy unless you can change those around you to behave, believe, or think the way you want them to.
  • Global Labeling – Generalizing one or two qualities into the negative global judgment.
  • Blaming – Thinking that someone else causes everything negative in your life.
  • Shoulds – You keep a list of rules about the way the world should operate and become angry or disappointed if others don’t follow your rules.
  • Being Right – Going to any length to demonstrate your rightness because being wrong is terrible.
  • Heaven’s Reward Fallacy – Feeling bitter when the rewards do not come that you think you deserve after working hard.

Awareness is the first step to disassembling disempowering thoughts. For today, be in awareness of your thoughts and please share your Aha moments!With love,Maria

6 Steps To Effective Leadership Storytelling

One of the most effective ways to teach is through storytelling. Nietzsche stated, “The more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more you must allure the senses to it.” That is exactly what storytelling does; it allures the senses.Throughout history, the art of storytelling demonstrates this powerful technique used to teach. Aristotle, Plato, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, Gibran, Hemingway, Emerson, and even Bob Dylan and Smokey Robinson have allured us with their gifted storytelling. This clear form of teaching captures us through our feelings, connecting with us through our hearts.The emotional heart-tug we get with good stories heightens our attention and holds us captive. We are fully present in those captive moments of a great story, giving our undivided attention to the details. This technique presents an incredible opportunity for the learner to not only be present with full attention, but also to retain the information ready to call upon it when needed.An ironic yet valuable benefit of storytelling is that the audience (the learner) is present in the moment of learning and the story helps us prepare for future use of the content. When we learn from stories, we learn how they may relate to us. This is a critical element to successful storytelling: the ability to relate.When we teach through stories, we are essentially saying, “When Ann experienced this event, she felt ___________, and when she did ___________, she was successful. So when you feel ___________, try as Ann did and ____________, because you too may be successful!” This mental process the learner experiences helps them to remember the story concept because they are relating it to themselves.Identify a story you believe to be a good one and follow these six simple steps to practice the art of leadership storytelling:

  1. Describe the main characters. Include yourself because when leaders are humble, open, and willing to share stories portraying themselves as human, it helps to connect with their team.
  2. Portray the situation, challenge, or problem in detail. Explain what is at stake with the issue.
  3. Reveal the characters’ intentions, thoughts, and feelings with the situation. Also, express what their thoughts are with potential outcomes and how they feel about what is at stake.
  4. Explain the actions taken by the character, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more in-depth you are with the description of the actions, the more you may heighten the learner’s interest in the outcome.
  5. Discuss the tools that the characters used to take action. Include which tools worked and which ones did not. Keep in mind that the tools may be thoughts, perspectives, strategies, and so forth.
  6. Finally, share the outcome.

As always, I love to hear from you. What is the best story you’ve told about your leadership?With love,Maria

Leadership Basics With Maslow

Abraham Maslow’s well-known and highly respected Hierarchy of Needs theory describes five level of needs. What does Maslow’s theory have to do with leadership?If we don’t understand peoples’ needs, we don’t understand people. Let’s look at the needs beginning with the basic needs:

  • Physiological needs – basic needs of air, food, water, shelter, sex, and relief and/or avoidance of pain.
  • Safety needs – after the basic needs are met, safety and security must be met.
  • Belongingness or Social needs – after safety needs are met, we want to feel connections with people.
  • Esteem needs – after social needs are met, we desire self-respect, status, and recognition for our accomplishments.
  • Self-Actualization needs – the highest level of needs is the development of our full potential. To achieve this sense of fulfillment, we seek to understand and grow, to find meaning in our work and our lives.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is based on three assumptions:(1) only unmet needs motivate,(2) needs are hierarchical in nature, basic to complex, and(3) lower level needs must be met before moving to a higher-order need.We can see how the first two tiers, our basic and safety needs are met, just by having a job and a paycheck. The pay affords us the ability to meet our basic and safety-level needs.The third tier, belongingness and/or social needs, are the connections with others we crave. Often, after a certain period of time on the new job, we seek relationships with those with whom we work. Going to lunch, taking coffee breaks with each other, or perhaps a cocktail after work are all ways in which we fill these belongingness needs. It is not unusual for someone to say they "hate the job, but love the people they work with". This is an important sign for leaders to notice. As soon as those employees get their social needs met outside of work...they are gone!Our esteem needs are when we seek outside approval from others. We want to know we are valued and appreciated. Employees always remember leaders who are good at this. We often remember how we felt when someone said something to or about us, rather than the specific words uttered by the person. How we felt about those statements or actions, has a much longer duration and more deeply affects us than the actual words. I remember while growing up I often heard my mother repeating one of her favorite mantras, “Actions speak louder than words.” How true mom, how very true! This is often the place that we lose “good people” at work, because they don’t feel valued and honored.The highest level of needs Maslow presented was the need for self-actualization. This is where we seek, with a ferocious hunger to find meaning and purpose in what we do. OK, we may start a new job and begin the quest of the hierarchical pyramid all over again, but we will eventually be right back to this higher order of need. Meeting this need is the fulfillment of meaning. People leave organizations when they reach this need level because their work is not a conduit to their meaning-seeking behavior and need.As always, I love to hear from you. What level are you at currently? What is one immediate action you can take today, based on this knowledge?With love,Maria

Hollywood Leadership

Many models of leadership exist. A favorite of many, with massive buy-in is the Hollywood version of leadership. Our society has embraced and idolized a stereotype leader we see depicted in film, like the Lone Ranger.This type of leader is nearly omnipotent, strong, and able to handle almost everything that comes his (yes, his) way almost single-handedly. He has all of the answers and endless energy. In many organizations, we have come to expect this type of leader to lead and guide us through the hard times and reign in the good times. These leaders are expected to have strength, courage, valor, and vision.This perception and expectation of leadership is harmful to both the leaders and the followers. It is unrealistic. Inevitably, the Hollywood leader in organizations, communities, and countries fail, leaving the followers disillusioned and fearful. The leaders in organizations that succumb to this model pay a hefty price of, isolation, stress, fear of failure, stress-related illness, or worse.Why do we create these types of leaders literally and figuratively? Perhaps the answers lay in our fears and wanting to be rescued. So many of us grew up with the fantasy of fairy tales where we (females) were rescued by the handsome prince who led us out of adversity. We never got to know the rest of the story about the “leader’s” uncertainty or vulnerability. We never saw anything about the rescuer/leader below the surface.Perhaps another answer to this question could be our instant-fix culture. We want it (whatever it may be) to be fixed NOW! We want instant food, photos, pain relief, escape, and reality. We want instant gratification, and we don’t necessarily want to work for it. By having the leader ride in on the white horse and save the day works much better for us…or so we think.I’d love to hear your thoughts on both the leadership and the gratification concepts. What do you say?With love and no drama,Maria

What is Wisdom, Really?

I was recently asked, “What is wisdom?” That is one of those questions that stops me in my tracks. What a simple, yet complex question. Because of my preference to err on the side of simplicity, I thought the answer to the question might certainly reside in simplicity. After all, as my friend Dorothy always says, “Simple is profound.”Before we define wisdom, let’s first look at what it is not. Wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom is not education. Wisdom is not experience.Wisdom is circular. We receive it, put it out there, live it, and receive it again. Wisdom is not an achievement where we check the box and move on; it is not an arrival. We taste it and we know of it as we travel on the journey.Wisdom is definitely a process, and not one that is ever truly finished. In actuality, the more we learn, the more we learn that which we do not know. Socrates knew this when he said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Enter—wisdom.The simplicity in understanding wisdom, is that it is a combination of all three activities: knowledge, experience, and learning from those experiences. Wisdom, simply stated, is the combination of knowledge and experience.We also know that our experiences go through the perceptual process. Wisdom brings those two aspects together and makes sense of the stimuli that we experience.While wisdom brings together two forms of external learning—knowledge and experience—it is a deeply internal process. Because it is so internal, reflective time is absolutely necessary in understanding and growing in wisdom.Today, reflect on a recent experience in stillness. Begin with the process in your heard and slowly move the thought energy to your heart. Then listen with the profoundness and simplicity of wisdom.With love,Maria

Creating an Ideal Culture - Part 4

As we conclude this exploration of organizational cultures, we go to the deepest part. Values, like beliefs, are elements extremely important to us, but we are not aware of them until we face a situation that forces them into our consciousness. Integrity, honesty, and ethical beliefs are a few values that often drive organizational and ethical behaviors.As a coach, I usually begin a coaching relationship with a values clarification exercise. Values are foundational elements to the ways we think, act, and behave. Organizations are coming into awareness about the importance of value identification and are creating value statements to guide the organization. These value statements are as important as the mission and vision statements.The deepest elements we find below the surface of the tree are the assumptions that feed the entire person and organization, passing through each element all the way through the roots, trunk, and branches to the tips of the leaves. Our assumptions are the most deeply ingrained of all the elements, created by our mental models.Mental models are the lenses or filters by which we view the world, and no two are alike. Comprised of our familial, educational, community, religious, personal, and professional experiences, our mental models help us make sense, assumptions, and judgments about our life experiences. For example if I said, “pop” what would you think? Some may think of their father, a loud noise, a gun, gum, or soda. Whatever you thought of is reflective of your mental model.So how do we create a culture based on love and love-based leadership? We start with the roots and work our way up. We begin with awareness and make conscious, strategic choices to create an environment based on love and not on fear. We recognize our own mental models and broaden our beliefs.We wrap awareness around our values and deepen our understanding of how they affect our beliefs and behaviors. We strategically infuse our organizational culture with continued learning and development. We intentionally instill a sense of shared ownership and power in the work we do, providing channels for meaningful work experiences, and we wrap all of these strategies in love.As always, I love it when you share your insights.With love,Maria

Creating an Ideal Culture - Part 3

Last week, we looked at the elements of the culture above the surface, behavior. The trunk, bridging the branches and leaves above the ground to the roots below, are the beliefs we have individually and the beliefs we share collectively.Beliefs are the support to the behaviors demonstrated on the surface through the physical, language, ceremony, and story elements. The organizational beliefs are sometimes spelled out through the mission and vision statements, as well as policies and procedures. Many times, the beliefs are not in our consciousness until we are faced with a situation where we must examine them.Because beliefs are the trunk or the stabilizing factor that directly fuels behavior, it is important for us to recognize the power beliefs have over our behavior. For instance, the Pygmalion effect is a phenomenon whereby you believe your team will fail, and in the end, they subsume that negative energy are not successful. Conversely, if you believe the person you just promoted into that position will succeed, the odds are that they will be successful.Our underlying beliefs affect our behavior. In the first example, you may not be available to the team for support, direction, and/or guidance. In the second scenario, you may be fully present to help that person succeed, providing mentorship and encouragement. Just as Henry Ford stated, “If you believe you can or believe you cannot, you are correct.”Below the surface, beneath the leaves, branches, and trunk, we understand how the tree is nourished. The root structure is more elaborate and complex than the tree itself. This is true in our organizational cultures. The deeper we go below the surface, the deeper ingrained are the elements that feed into beliefs and behaviors. In those depths, lie the values, mental models, and perceptions that are so deeply ingrained that we are not even aware of them.Next week, we will go to the deepest recesses of our cultures. Let me know your thoughts, comments, and questions. I love hearing from you!With love,Maria

Developing Extraordinary Leadership Through Simplicity

Taking a holistic approach to leadership, we want to develop our whole selves. As with our mind and body, it is important to take care of our soul.We need to nurture your soul with love, kindness, and depth. When we do not care for our souls, we end up with what Albert Schweitzer referred to as, “A sleeping sickness of the soul. Its symptoms are loss of seriousness, enthusiasm, and zest. When we live superficially, pursue no goals deeper than material success, and never stop to listen to our inner voices, we stunt our spiritual development.” How do you develop your spirit? Spiritual growth and development manifest through inspiration. Do what you love and you’ll find that you love what you do. Music, art, nature, and literature are a few of the paths for inspiration. What stirs your soul? For me, when I hear drumming—Native American drumming, Irish drumming, Kudo drumming, or nearly any type of drumming—my soul stirs. Looking at a beautiful sunset feeds my soul. When I listen to music that feeds the souls of musicians, it nourishes my soul. Watching cloud formations or the dance of a butterfly warms my soul.In their book, “The Spirituality of Imperfection”, Kurtz and Ketcham wrote, “Spirituality transcends the ordinary; and yet, paradoxically, it can be found only in the ordinary. Spirituality is beyond us and yet is in everything we do. It is extraordinary, and yet it is extraordinarily simple.”Listening to and honoring your heart’s call honors your soul, your core, and your very essence. When we are aligned with our soul, with our spirit, we are authentic, abundant, and at peace. Meaning is not a destination, but a way of life, like the air we breathe. There is no better way to achieve well-being and love for ourselves than aligning with our spirit.I would love to hear from you. What do you do to nurture your soul?With love,Maria

Choosing Your Circle of Five

Jim Rohn, the great businessman and motivational leader stated, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” What does this say about us?What makes up our time with these five people in our circle? Do we spend the day criticizing and gossiping? Are we sharing ideas; are we planting seeds of fear and destruction? Are we raising others up, nurturing minds, bodies, and spirits? Do we spend time with our five learning, growing, expanding? The choice, as always, is yours.When we think about this statement, we may immediately go to the literal, physical people in our circle. This concept is realized when we start taking on new patterns in our speech, behaviors, and mannerisms. Have you ever noticed someone in your circle saying a new expression or demonstrating a different laugh? You realize very quickly exactly where they picked that up when you meet their friend or colleague and you hear the same inflection, term, or laugh. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.I love being alive at this time in history. I can spend time with many of the great thought leaders—dead or alive by connecting with these people through technology. I can pop in a CD, DVD, or plug into my iPad and watch or listen to a lecture, presentation, or audio book and hear these mentors and teachers anytime I want! I can CHOOSE my circle of five and never leave my home or office…so can you. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.Let’s be mindful with whom we choose to spend our time with, and our minds and time will be filled with wonder.With love,Maria

9 Gifts of Gratitude

“Gratitude is the portal through which abundance flows.”

Writing and talking about gratitude is one of my favorite topics, as I have written blogs, articles, and chapters about the virtues of thankfulness. Every year, I cannot help but revisit this topic again. It warms my heart to see the 30-day challenge many people have taken annually. I see tweets and posts with gratitude expressed each day for someone or something in other people’s lives. Woohoo!How about a SUPER CHALLENGE of finding what we may be grateful for with a challenging individual? In that difficult situation, try to see the spirit in them; or how we might be grateful for the lessons we are learning from that difficult person or situation. If we find it difficult to locate the gratitude with a person or scenario, perhaps forgiveness is an option. Forgiveness is a powerful door to open the flow of gratitude.You know how much I love to use acronyms, so here goes one for gratitude:

GivingReceivingAbundanceThankfulnessIntentionTogetherUnconditionallyDirectedEveryone

When we are in a state of gratitude, we give and receive love and abundance. We are thankful for the intentional way we choose to live our lives. This awareness brings us together to unconditionally direct our love and gratitude to everyone, all of our brothers and sisters.In a previous episode of Dr. Maria TV, titled, “3 Simple Steps to Abundance” I shared with you three strategies to cultivate gratitude.Another fun activity in which many of my clients participate is posting a gratitude board in a prominent place in the home. This could be a chalkboard or a white board. List anything on the board for which you are grateful, and invite family and friends to participate too. The board serves as a visual reminder each time you pass by it. Writing on the board, and practicing gratitude has become an integral thread in our family.Another activity to cultivate gratitude in your life is to write a letter a day for one year to different people, indicating why you are grateful for him or her. This activity is beneficial to so many people on numerous levels. Your generosity will move and touch the hearts of all of the people that receive letters from you. You, too, will receive joy and love in your heart all the while you are writing the letter, shifting your energy to love and gratitude each day while you are thinking about that person and completing the activity.Finally, what you sow, so shall you reap. Do you have other ideas? To which gratitude challenge are you willing to commit?As always, I love to hear from you.Maria