Leadership Light

I love this quote by Edith Wharton, “There are two ways of spreading light…To be a candle or the mirror that reflects it.”In this season of light, I ponder what light represents in our lives and how that relates to our leadership. I love Edith Wharton’s perspective of spreading light, but what exactly does that mean?Spreading light comes in the form of lighting up a room. As leaders, we can light up a room with our presence; you know, by being fully present to others. We do this by listening without distraction and giving our full attention to those around us.We can also spread light through our attitudes and behaviors. We spread light through love, care, and compassion. Light takes away the darkness. We know that smiles are contagious and can be a great conduit to spreading light and love.As leaders, we can also be the mirror that reflects light. Through encouragement and support of those we lead, we see the light in their eyes, their behaviors, and in their attitudes. Mentoring those we lead and reflecting back their greatness is one of the most profound activities we can do as leaders.We also reflect light by “lightening” the load of others. We can help lighten the heaviness of others by supporting our teams literally and figuratively. We can support others in a variety of ways that don’t cost any money. Sometimes small acts of just listening, giving an encouraging word, or acknowledging others can be extraordinary and have lasting profound effects. Serving those we lead is an example of love-based leadership.Light in the darkness and lightening the load are profound ways we demonstrate love-based leadership. In this season of light, I wish you a blessed holiday season and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.As always, I love to hear from you. How will you be a light to others today?With love,Maria

Great Leaders Are Full

Great leaders, who communicate and connect, fill their minds with the person in front of them. We feel this connection when others are fully engaged in what we are saying. We see it in their eyes, we feel it energetically, we know we are connected and drawn to that person and the moment. Presence is mindfulness. Mindfulness is found in the present, and when you are present, you show up.When we find this connection with others through mindfulness, we gain a deeper understanding of each other and of ourselves. Of course when we do, we are mind-full of their presence in the moment. We also understand ourselves better when we connect with others. It is not unusual with this deep union of souls, to see ourselves in those people with whom we feel connected. In a mindful state, empathy, connection, compassion, and equality surface to our consciousness. We see and feel each other as the same, without division and without judgment—we feel love.Not only is a mindful practice one that provides clarity, vision, connection, and beauty, but being present in the moment also confers peace of mind. Living in mindfulness is living in peace. This is especially relevant in our current culture plagued with chaos, competition, rage, and fear.How do you know when you’ve really been heard?With love,Maria

Innovation meets Implementation

“The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams.” -W. Arthur Porter

I recently attended an innovation conference for local governments where I learned of fantastic innovative solutions that some local governments are doing. First, there was a Park District that launched an idea dashboard where staff can upload ideas. Others can give the ideas a thumbs up or comment. Ideas grow here and through ongoing dashboard input, collaborative thinking in born. This park district has created and implemented several innovations that began on their idea dashboard.Another innovative solution was a local government that uses Alexa technology to help with light maintenance and customer assistance. They use inexpensive technology in creative and innovative ways to add services, while reducing costs.It starts with an idea in the mind and then action puts it into motion.How do we get into an innovative space? Try these 3 steps:

  • Get curious. Channel your inner 3-year old. Ask and dig from a place of curiosity.
  • Try the opposite. If you’ve always done it a certain way, try the opposite. See what happens and ask yourself and your team, “What else is possible?”
  • Be fast to acclimate. The quicker you are to acclimate and adapt to change, the quicker you will be able to innovate.

What are some innovations we could use in local government?With Love and To Your Success,Maria

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

Why Your Leadership Needs To Understand Personality Types

As we continue our understanding of leadership, today I want to expand our Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, by discussing the importance of understanding personality types in the workplace.Now, we’ve been hanging out together for a while and I just have to ask, Are you a square? No, not that kind of square!Maybe you’re a circle or a triangle?We can identify our personality tendencies with some simple geometry. Yikes - no formulas I promise!We are multi-dimensional people and have many sides to us. However, we have natural tendencies that we can relate to one or two specific shapes.It’s important to have representation of all of these shapes on your team and in your organization to bring different perspectives and ideas for problem-solving, and creating.As always, I love to hear from you. What shape do you identify with the most and what shape value do you bring to the table? What is the most challenging shape to work with and how have you learned to leverage those unique qualities of each personality type?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

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

Leadership in Local Communities

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to a local community Leadership cohort. I am sure that most communities have a local leadership program, usually through the Chamber of Commerce where aspiring community leaders learn all aspects of community leadership from local government to education. What a dynamic group of people I met from this particular cohort!This session focused on leadership in education. When I asked the group how they defined leadership, we heard several different perspectives. A common thread among those individuals included the ability to inspire others toward a goal.Leadership can be that simple and yet, that challenging. The complexity of leadership arises in the “inspiration” component because not all of us are inspired in the same way.Through my years of teaching, consulting, and leading, I do find the following seven factors key in inspiring others:

  • Authenticity – Transparency is here whether we like it or not. We have developed pretty good BS meters, so be who you are and stop trying to be someone else.
  • Approachability – If the people around us do not feel like they can approach us with a problem, or a solution, we open ourselves up to liability and close off innovation – think Enron.
  • Relatability – We are more alike than different, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can be open and authentic with one another.
  • Listening – When we stop to really listen to each other, what we hear can enlighten us with insight, answers, and solutions.
  • Decisiveness – Leaders, good leaders, are not afraid to make decisions. If they are not the right decisions, we can course correct. Remember, we cannot course correct if we do not get out on the course.
  • Openness – It is important for us to stay open to new ideas and ways of doing our work. Innovation does not come in doing the same thing repeatedly – think Einstein’s definition of insanity.
  • Trustworthy – Once we lose trust in others or ourselves, it is extremely difficult to get it back. Innovation, loyalty, and full-on engagement only comes when trust is present.

Inspiring leadership is a huge responsibility…and tremendously rewarding. Are you up for the challenge?

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

Light Of Leadership

I love this quote by Edith Wharton, “There are two ways of spreading light…To be a candle or the mirror that reflects it.”In this season of light, I ponder what light represents in our lives and how that relates to our leadership. I love Edith Wharton’s perspective of spreading light, but what exactly does that mean?Spreading light comes in the form of lighting up a room. As leaders, we can light up a room with our presence; you know, by being fully present to others. We do this by listening without distraction and giving our full attention to those around us.We can also spread light through our attitudes and behaviors. We spread light through love, care, and compassion. Light takes away the darkness. We know that smiles are contagious and can be a great conduit to spreading light and love.As leaders, we can also be the mirror that reflects light. Through encouragement and support of those we lead, we see the light in their eyes, their behaviors, and in their attitudes. Mentoring those we lead and reflecting back their greatness is one of the most profound activities we can do as leaders.We also reflect light by “lightening” the load of others. We can help lighten the heaviness of others by supporting our teams literally and figuratively. We can support others in a variety of ways that don’t cost any money. Sometimes small acts of just listening, giving an encouraging word, or acknowledging others can be extraordinary and have lasting profound effects. Serving those we lead is an example of love-based leadership.Light in the darkness and lightening the load are profound ways we demonstrate love-based leadership. In this season of light, I wish you a blessed holiday season and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.As always, I love to hear from you. How can you be a light to others today?With love,Maria

Prioritization In Life and Leadership

I know there is quite of bit of talk going around about balance. Unfortunately, the discussion only seems to pile on guilt because many of us are already aware that we are out of balance. The purpose of this post is not to engender guilt, but to help a miracle come into your life with awareness and practical strategies to regain order and balance.Let’s look to nature for our lesson in balance. Nature teaches us about seasons. Our life also has seasons. Sometimes our seasons are busy, other times our seasons may offer renewal, and sometimes, our seasons may call for hibernation. Seasons do not go on forever—there is always a change of season. Listen and learn this lesson from nature: you cannot indefinitely go on at a frenetic pace by sheer adrenaline; it is unnatural and could be extremely dangerous to you.Nature also teaches us that unless we shed the old way, we cannot begin anew. This is nature’s miracle—shifting. A caterpillar shifts to a butterfly, and the snake sheds its skin. We cannot move forward and look for something new if we don’t let go of the old; and we cannot experience the miracle of a different perspective or idea if we hold on to old and limiting beliefs.We spend a lot of time in leadership and management seminars discussing how to prioritize. Many of us have handled this lesson fairly well at work; but we forget the idea of adding balance to this equation.Like the balance of seasons, we can work at a fast pace for a while, meeting deadlines and seizing opportunities. Without looking at the bigger picture, however, we could end-up spinning our wheels on the perceived priority and everything else goes to pot. That is where order comes into play. Without order, we will continue to drop things, even with our priority list.What are your priorities for this winter? What are you doing to prepare for the next year?With love,Maria

2 Steps to Peace In The Workplace

So much of what we do as leaders is to create vision, motivate, and inspire others to reach that vision. We imagine what our organizations will be like when we are successful at meeting our goals, meeting the mission, and realizing the vision.I love John Lennon’s song, Imagine. When I look at lyrics from his famous song, Imagine, I am struck by the simplicity of his statements and the call to action.Living life in peace is possible in our world, our countries, our communities, our organizations, and our families. Peace begins with us, and feeling peaceful within ourselves. Of course, our internal peace is steeped in self-love.Feeling peaceful in our workplaces is sometimes challenging, but not impossible. To shift to peace, requires awareness and a commitment to live life in peace. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”Envision who you would be, living and leading your life in peace and hold that vision until it becomes reality.Yes, it is true…I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us.Now I would love to hear from you. What do you want to see in your organization, community, and world and what are you willing to commit to today to be the change you want to see?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

12 Transitions in Workplace Professionalism

Imagine for a moment, if we could harness the love we feel and translate that into our leadership. Now of course, I am not talking about romantic love. I am talking about universal love; the love we feel as one human to another. This love is honoring, valuing, and respecting each other. This is a love of Namaste, honoring the spirit of another.As leaders, we are taught to compartmentalize a love such as this. We are taught to remove ourselves from any emotion (including love) and be “professional” as if being professional makes us non-human or even worse, super-human. This practice, and many of us have gotten this concept down good, has propelled us in our careers, but also has left us empty.Emotional intelligence teaches us to recognize our emotions and manage them in healthy ways. Managing our emotions does not mean shoving them down and ignoring them. We know from experience this only gives our emotions time to grow and mutate into emotions that are exaggerated, misdirected, and sometimes manifest in disease and illness.Being professional does not mean being distant, aloof, uncaring, and impersonal. We are in a world of transition and change. We are in a world where many of us are creating new models for living. In this spirit and in the spirit of love, let’s create a new professionalism. Let's create a professionalism that stands for something powerful, serving, supportive, and love-filled.I am thinking a new professionalism includes these 12 areas:I would love to hear from you. How would you create a new professionalism?With love,Maria

5 Steps To Creating A Leadership Brand

I recently conducted some market research to learn from leaders how I can best support their leadership growth and development. I asked a series of questions and received great responses, food for thought, and feedback.When I spoke with a man in the military, he said one of the most important aspects that he looks for in leadership is “keepin it real”. OK, he is quite a bit younger than I am! However, this message is ageless and timeless.Most of us have a pretty good B.S. meter and can smell fake a mile away. This is especially important to us, as leaders, to tap into truth and stand in our authenticity. When we stand in authenticity, we stand in power. THAT is what makes us powerful leaders – authenticity.And let’s face it; there is nothing more authentic or real than love.When we lead with love and authenticity, we practice:

  • Truth
  • Mindfulness
  • Awareness
  • Non-judgment
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Service
  • Presence
  • Humanitarianism

Branding and image consulting are terms that we’ve no doubt heard before, typically in the context of marketing. Have you thought about your brand? No, I am not talking about the company for which you work—I am talking about YOU!What is your brand, your leadership image? Are you keepin it real? Are you respected because you’ve earned it or are you feared because of your title? What is the first thing your team thinks about when your name comes up?Some of us may say that we don’t care about what others think about us.Really, is that really true?As leaders, our primary task is to motivate and influence others toward a vision and/or goal. If others are not buying our brand, then we don’t really have followers.How can we consciously create our leadership brand? Follow these 5 simple steps:

  1. Intentionally determine what you want your brand to represent.
  2. Reverse engineer the steps necessary to develop and create that brand image.
  3. Be accountable to doing the work – find an accountability partner or coach who will be honest about your progress and a resource when you are stuck.
  4. Be vulnerable and do spot checks with others to see if you are on the right track (in other words—ask!).
  5. Keep it real – Authenticity is a real attractor

I would love to hear from you. How would you describe an authentic leader, one who is keepin it real?With love,Maria

Combining Leadership Theory With Action

As a professor and teacher, I understand the importance of theory. Theory gives us the foundation on which to build. As a coach, I understand the importance of action. Just as wisdom is the combination of knowledge and experience, success is the combination of theory and action.I work with many clients on action plans, the roadmaps to our success. We can have all the best intentions and theoretical plans in the world, but without action, we really don’t have anything. My strategic planning workshops are very popular for this very reason. We do not create gorgeous plans, we actually map out our action steps.Here are the 7 actions steps that will help you turn your plan into action:

  1. Write down your goals and remember to make them SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Aligned with your values, Realistic, Time-bound) It is important that when you are goal setting, you create SMART goals.
  2. List steps necessary to achieve each of your identified goals. You will need to do this for each goal as these steps are goal-specific.
  3.  Identify past success or strengths you have. This is a good reminder that you can accomplish this goal. The successes do not need to be related to your goal – only a reminder that you can do anything you commit to.
  4. List the people and resources you have available to support you. These are primarily your professional resources.
  5. Name any hazards, weaknesses, or blocks that could cause you to stumble. While I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the “what if” zone, it is important that we consider possible hazards before they may actually happen so we are not caught off-guard and throw in the towel.
  6. Identify the strengths, support, and resources available to you if you were to stumble and identify why you would turn to them. These resources may very well be personal ones that we could have a good cry with.
  7. Record the reasons and benefits that cause you to want to achieve your goals. This step is extremely important because this is your “why”. This is the step that connects our head with our heart. And we know that combination is unstoppable.

Review your goals each day and spend time in the morning and the evening visualizing yourself already achieving that goal. Can you see it? How do you feel? What changed for you in your life? When you sit with this image, the realization of your goal becomes stronger and more powerful.I would love to hear from you. What is the goal you are most proud of achieving?I can’t wait to celebrate with you!With love,Maria

Why Mentoring Isn't Enough

“Who exactly seeks out a coach? Winners who want more out of life.” – Chicago Tribune

Recently I discussed mentoring. The focus for this post is on coaching. I understand that many people use these two terms interchangeably. Mentoring and coaching can be a nice compliment to each other, but we need to understand the difference so we may be effective with both activities in our leadership development.Mentoring is typically sharing knowledge and experience, which equals wisdom. Typically, the mentor is older than the mentee, hence the experiential component. However, sharing of knowledge and information may move in both directions. In a mentorship relationship, advice is given to the mentee and the mentor leads the path.Coaching is a partnership, whereby the coach walks beside the mentee on the path. The coach supports the coachee in the coachee’s self-discovery. Often times, the coaching relationship begins with awareness of self, including clarification of values, plans, dreams, and goals. In a coaching relationship, the coach is a sounding board, a mirror to reflect back, and an excavator to help the coachee unearth his or her own inner wisdom.

A coach does not give advice, only support and resources.

Coaches help coachees see additional perspectives, options, and choices that may be hidden from the coachee. Coaches work together with the coachee to develop action plans. Coaches are cheerleaders and accountability partners.For many of us on the self-development path, we seek support from both mentors and coaches. Sometimes that person may be the same individual, recognizing the important distinction of when to lead, when to walk side-by-side, and when to follow. Knowing the difference is wisdom.With love,Maria

5 Steps For Working With Uncertainty

We expect leaders, including ourselves, to have the answers. If we don’t have the answer to a leadership challenge, we may feel inadequate. These feelings, like inadequacy, may also include feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. None of these feelings feel good to us, nor are allowed in the workplace, or so we’ve been taught.Really? Are we really supposed to never experience uncertainty as a leader? We are human beings, “hard-wired for struggle” as researcher, Brené Brown states. We are not the Hollywood version of leaders —we are human. And with our humanness, we are sometimes—make that many times, uncertain.What do we do with this uncertainty? Well, we bury it of course. This strategy may work for us for a while, that is until it shows up again as illness, ulcers, or worse. Why do you think we are so stressed, obese, and addicted? It is because we bury and numb our feelings. We’ve become comfortably numb.The interesting thing about numbing is that when we numb our “bad” feelings such as uncertainty, vulnerability, doubt, and fear, we are also numbing our “good” feelings of joy, peace, and gratitude.Another important aspect to know about uncertainty and vulnerability is that this state is where creativity, joy, and beauty are found. This is the place where great art is created.Walking through the door of uncertainty and vulnerability is full of endless possibilities because this is the location of our true, authentic self.How do we work with uncertainty and vulnerability without going crazy? Follow these five steps to support you during the uncertain times:

  1. Embrace uncertainty and vulnerability. Reach into it and pull up and out all of the fear, anxiety, and doubt. Burying and numbing will only allow it to surface again, so lean in, feel those feelings, and then release.
  2. Stay present. Don’t worry about the future or live in the past. The only moment you have is the present one, so why waste it?
  3. Stay in your own lane. When we start to compare ourselves to others, we set ourselves up for failure, not because we can’t be as successful as someone else, but because we can’t BE anyone else. What I can be is the best version of me, and what you can be is the best, highest self you can be.
  4. Practice gratitude. Nothing else will bring you into the present faster than gratitude.
  5. Be loving and truthful with yourself and with others.

Remember that uncertainty and vulnerability is the birthplace of truth, authenticity, creativity, and beauty.When was a time you were uncertain and did it anyway? I would love to hear from you!With love,Maria

Leadership Effectiveness Requires Laughter

Early on in my corporate career, colleagues advised me to learn golf, which they claimed as a great way to network, bond with clients, and create deals. I learned the sport, but I didn’t enjoy the game as much as other people did. At one of our corporate retreats, my boss and colleagues couldn’t wait to get out on the course with some of the top executive staff.I was a bit confused by this because I knew my boss didn’t really like or get along with this group of people. I asked him about it and he said that on the golf course, unless you are a pro, there is no pretense; all are on equal footing and all are hitting poorly. The golf experience allowed them to bring down their guards and share the misery of their poor shots. Like golf, laughter allows us to connect with one another, letting our guards down, sans the misery of poor golf shots.Laughter enhances communication by letting our shields down and showing that we are human. The model of professionalism for too long has instructed us to be super-human. We learned how to work beyond what is humanly possible, denying our natural rhythm for balance. We also learned to check our emotions at the door.While I ascribe to the concepts of emotional intelligence (EI), we are still human; we have emotions. To deny that fact is insanity. EI purports that we understand and acknowledge our emotions, recognize them, and with conscious awareness not let the emotions rule us. This is certainly a healthy approach to emotions, which is very different from the professional corporate model we learned.Here are seven strategies for infusing laughter and lightness in your leadership and life:

  • Start developing your practice of laughter with consciously smiling today. See how many people you can touch and shift their energy with your smile.
  • Begin your meetings on a light note. I have the E*Trade babies’ videos on my favorites list and would start meetings with one or two of those commercials. The more I watch them, the funnier they are.
  • Watch a funny movie, making note of the elements that tickle your funny bone.
  • Listen to a funny tape on the way to work, setting the tone for the day.
  • Laugh for 3–5 minutes every day. Fake it ‘til you make it!
  • Commit to do one silly thing a day to cultivate your playfulness.
  • Start collecting stories from work that are funny; invite everyone to participate and present these stories at the annual holiday party.

What do you do to infuse laughter into your life?With love and laugher,MariaP.S. This is an excerpt from my book!

8 Steps Leaders Need For Addressing The Fear Factor

I write and speak a lot about fear versus love. Fear is easy to identify. We definitely know when fear starts to creep in; our body becomes tense, blood pressure starts to rise, and feelings of anxiety emerge. Fear is not a good feeling! Why would we continue to go there repeatedly?Where love and spirit are internal to us, fear and ego are external. Turning to others for approval or acceptance, points us in the direction of ego, external to ourselves.When we live in the past, we live in the ego. It’s the same old song. Reliving those events, involving externally generated relationships, can cause tremendous pain or hurt. Each time we choose – yes, it is a choice – to live in the space of fear, we give away our power. We give it away to people or circumstance – again, an external event. When we retain our power, we are empowered, living in a place of love and spirit.Fear paralyzes us.True, fear can be a motivator, but it is not sustainable. We cannot be motivated and live in fear for long periods without paying the physical, emotional, and spiritual costs of fear and stress.Fear, again, holds us back from achieving so much. We’re 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.Moving away from fear is one thing, but how do we actively develop love and ultimately integrate it with our leadership?In my book, “Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance”, I outline eight steps to develop love of self, love of source, and love of others:

  1. Develop and harness your intuition.
  2. Honor yourself with truth.
  3. Recognize your ability to make choices.
  4. Listen to and honor your body.
  5. Nurture your soul.
  6. Practice meditation or prayer regularly to connect with your source.
  7. Just the like term, Namaste, honor the spirit of others.
  8. Practice forgiveness.

When we align ourselves with love and spirit, abundance and joy flow into our lives.I would love to hear from you! What other steps would you add to develop love in your leadership and your life?With love,Maria