Leadership Choices Today are Tomorrow’s Results

“Yesterday was the birth of today. Today is the birthplace of tomorrow.” ~ Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye spoke those words at the Motown 25th Reunion show that aired on television in 1983. Simple words with a profound message.Today, many of our organizations are spiritually bankrupt, halls walked by zombies, the living dead. The grim reaper has become the human resources director handing out yet another layoff notice, or the boss giving you yet another task because someone else has left the company. Too many organizations discourage deeper forms of communication, emotions, and intimacy, opting instead for superficiality.If we continue down this path, the same path that got us here, we are doomed to fail. Boleman and Deal stated in Leading with Soul, “Spiritual bankruptcy ultimately leads to economic failure. The deeper cost is creating a world in which everything has a function yet nothing has any meaning.”Life gives us many opportunities to learn lessons and if we fail to learn them the first time, we get the opportunity to experience the lessons again and again until we learn them.George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” If we want progress, abundance, and new way of life then, we must as Gandhi stated, “Be the change we wish to see in the world.”Instead of following a path full of limitations, let’s construct a path illuminated with choice and abundance.With love,Maria

Words, Words, Words

Words are powerful.Recently in the news, we see yet another celebrity immersed in backlash for words spoken. True, as Maya Angelou stated, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is those words that we speak that create such an emotion-filled response.Thoughts are powerful, but only because thoughts are steeped with words and stories we tell.As leaders, we have a huge responsibility to be thought-filled of our words, the vehicle, by which we communicate.Let’s not just be conscious and strategic in the words we don’t say, but even more responsible in the words we do say.Do your words lift up or pull down?Do your words encourage or diminish?Do your words inspire or de-motivate?Are your words love-fueled or your words fueled by fear?Remember, leadership is powerful—use your power wisely.With love,Maria

You are Branded!

Branding and image consulting are terms we’ve no doubt heard, 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 respected because you’ve earned it or are you feared because of your title? What is the first thing your people think about when your name comes up?Some of us may say that we don’t care about what others think about me. 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:

  • Intentionally determine what you want your brand to represent.
  • Reverse engineer the steps necessary to develop and create that brand image.
  • 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.
  • Be vulnerable and do spot checks with others to see if you are on the right track (in other words—ask!).
  • Celebrate your successes along the way.

Please share your progress and aha’s! I love hearing from you.With love,Maria

A Leg Up On Legacy

We all leave a legacy, whether by choice or unconsciously. So why not intentionally create the legacy? Do you really want someone else to define your legacy? Meaningfulness, is feeling a part of something bigger, as big as a legacy.The yearning for something more is evident in our society. Work-related illnesses are on the rise, and stress reduction workshops are everywhere. Proof of peoples’ desire for a more spiritual and holistic life is on grocery store shelves, in advertising, and in kitchens and baths across America.Spiritual practices such as yoga, prayer, meditation, and aromatherapy are creeping into offices and boardrooms, which are far from the practices that have guided American businesses since the 18th century. The evidence is out there—we want more!I invite you to discover a model of leadership that can help you realize meaning, abundance, and can inspire and motivate those around you in meaningful experiences. Let’s be a part of something bigger and let’s start now! Let’s be love-based leaders.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

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

Amending Your Circle of Five

When we think about our circle of five, the one I brought up two weeks ago in my blog post, the people around us with whom we spend our time, we may find that we need to make some changes.If you find yourself surrounded by people who do not treat you well, it may be a reflection of how you treat yourself.Ouch! I know this is difficult for some of us to hear, but the truth is that our outward reality is a reflection of what is happening internally.The really great part of this reality is the awakening of awareness that comes when we fully understand this concept, because with the understanding comes the power of choice! We can choose to treat ourselves with more respect, honor, dignity, value, and love.When we stand in that power, bathed by authenticity and love, we begin to radiate that energy outward. Initially, those who have treated us poorly may rear-up and lay it on thick to get the same old response from you. However, when you stand firm in truth, authenticity, and love, those people will back down or leave your circle.This is what setting boundaries is all about – loving, honoring, respecting, and valuing yourself in truth and authenticity. By your behaviors, actions, and attitudes, you tell the world how loved and blessed you are.Then…an amazing phenomenon happens…you start attracting people to you that also love, honor, respect, and value you!As always, the choice is yours.With love,Maria

5 Strategies Every Leader Should Model

As leaders, we often buy into the perception (more likely than not, self-imposed perception) that we must know the answers, be strong, and just like the Energizer bunny, keep going, going, and going.Enough already!As leaders, the most important lesson we can model and teach others is that we are human.As humans and leaders, we don’t always have the answers. This requires us to fess up and be honest. Big deal, we don’t have the answer. The difference between leaders and non-leaders is that we will find the answer…whatever it takes, we will find out.This may require us to do some research or ask someone else, who may have the answer. We may also need to tap into our intuition for inner wisdom to solve the surface question. And, my favorite resource of all, ask Source, Spirit, or God, who is always available 24/7, always honest, and always right on target.The perception that leaders are always strong is like saying it is always sunny. Just as nature has beautifully shown us, there are seasons to life. As living, breathing human beings, we too, have seasons. Our strength does not come by us always standing, our strength is our ability to get up again after we fall.Sometimes, this requires us to ask for help.Even the Beatles asked for help! Here are 5 strategies to remember when asking for help:

Try out your ideas first, and then if you still cannot figure it out reach out and ask.– When you ask, present your thinking so far, including some possible solutions or outcomes.– Don’t be a martyr or bad mouth yourself when you do ask for help– it’s not very attractive.– Ask a clarifying question. If someone asks you something and you don’t know the answer right away, simply ask them, “Well what do you think?”– Remember that asking for help could be a great developmental opportunity for someone else to also grow.

The beautiful benefit of our asking is that the helper receives a gift too, by serving. This is a win-win exchange. It can’t get much better than that!We cannot keep going, going, going. This is unrealistic and quite frankly, dangerous to our physical body, emotional health, and spiritual growth. We are not super-human, so we must stop pretending to be…it is killing us! We need to learn to ask for re-charge time and then take it! Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.I would love to hear from you. What is the most challenging thing for you to ask for help?With love,Maria

False Power In Leadership

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” ~ Robert Muller

Forgiveness is a challenging concept for many leaders. While we understand the idea and we know forgiveness when it happens, the vagueness surrounding forgiveness is illusive. The ambiguity enfolding forgiveness stems from our questions of how to bring about forgiveness and understanding, and from where it actually originated. To begin, let’s take a dive into the word itself.For implies intention to someone, for the benefit of or on behalf of someone or something. Give is to pass on, to gift, or convey something to someone. Ness, is a suffix that implies a state of being. For-give-ness therefore, is a state of benefiting someone by giving something to him or her.How did we even get here—the need or desire to forgive?We look to practice forgiveness when we are angry, wronged, or hurt. Tormentors come in the form of resentment, guilt, or even shame. Oftentimes we hold on to anger as a form of power. We feel in control and ultimately powerful when we hold onto our anger, justified in our feelings and hoping that the person we believe hurt us may feel guilty or remorseful for what we perceive they have done to us. Avoiding forgiveness allows us to fuel our anger, feeling justified and entitled in our anger or pain as victims.This practice of avoidance may manifest through not communicating with the person who harmed us, furthering the growth of our anger. Avoiding forgiveness is avoiding responsibility. We are victims because we believe we have no power. Playing the victim role deepens the feelings of pain and anger justification. Each time we replay the event that caused us pain is another attempt to regain respect, acknowledgment, hope, and love.With a loving heart,MariaP.S. This is an excerpt from my book, “Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life With Meaning And Abundance” to purchase or read another excerpt, click HERE.

Why Leaders Thoughtfully Choose These 5 People

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?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.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.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.When we think about our circle, the people around us with whom we spend our time, we may find that we need to make some changes.If you find yourself surrounded by people who do not treat you well, it may be a reflection of how you treat yourself. Ouch! I know this is difficult for some of us to hear, but the truth is that our outward reality is a reflection of what is happening internally.The really great part of this reality is the awakening of awareness that comes when we fully understand this concept, because with the understanding comes the power of choice! We can choose to treat ourselves with more respect, honor, dignity, value, and love.When we stand in that power, bathed by authenticity and love, we begin to radiate that energy outward. Initially, those who have treated us poorly may rear-up and lay it on thick to get the same old response from us. However, when we stand firm in truth, authenticity, and love, those people will back down or leave our circle.This is what setting boundaries is all about – loving, honoring, respecting, and valuing ourselves in truth and authenticity. By our behaviors, actions, and attitudes, we tell the world how loved and blessed we are.Then…an amazing phenomenon happens…we start attracting people to us that also love, honor, respect, and value us!As always, the choice is yours.I would love to hear from you. What qualities do you look for in your circle of five?With love,Maria

The Right Side of Re-Connecting

Ask any successful leader or business owner what one of the most critical factors is for success today, and you will hear creativity. Now, more than ever, innovation and creativity are sought-after skills in organizations for their leaders. Old models steeped in scientific management and mechanistic thinking no longer serves our needs in this new era. As Einstein so eloquently reminds us, we must stop the insanity and look toward new models and creative ways of leading people and doing business.For decades, our American culture has devoted most curriculum and teaching models to developing the left-hemisphere of the brain. This is the part of the brain for logic, linear and sequential thought processes. This style of learning and development continued into colleges and universities where the mechanistic model of managing business and leading people remained a primary focus. Perhaps a nod to the “soft skills” of leadership appeared in the curriculum, but not until quite recently are we teaching these skills to leaders.Many organizations now focus on teaching the soft skills in their leadership development programs because they realized a profound need for their leaders to have these skills in this new era. The soft skills to which I am referring are connecting with people, motivating teams, inspiring followers, creative thinking, innovation, quick decision-making and big-picture vision (strategic thinking and planning). Each one of these skill sets requires right-brain thinking.The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, is simultaneous, specializes in context, and synthesizes the big picture. Clearly, the ability to think quickly in today’s fast-paced world requires right hemisphere functions. I am not advocating tossing aside the value of the left-brain—our entire brain is a gift from God. I am simply seeking to focus on development of our right-brain functions. At this point, most of us have fairly well developed left hemispheres. After all, we have spent most of our lifetime educated and trained to use our left-brains. What we now need as leaders is to develop and reconnect with the processes of our right brains.Lateral thinking is perception thinking, looking for creative and innovative ways of viewing the world. This process is not constricted by boundaries and limited beliefs; it challenges us to move into expansiveness, unlimited possibilities, and abundance thinking.Are you ready for the shift?With Love,Maria

Making Movement In Your Leadership Goals

We have so much we want to do and accomplish as leaders. We dream, create, plan, review, plan some more, and tweak, tweak, tweak. Is this perfectionism or is this fear; and really, aren’t they both the same?Sometimes, we stand behind all of these activities to legitimately stay busy. However, these activities keep us behind the computer. There comes a time (probably now) that we need to step out from behind the computer and into the world of personal interaction. When we step out, then, we can really leave impressions teaching, helping, and leading with those we met.Breaking out of our comfort zones may be different strategies for different people. For some of us we may need to just jump in water, or we may dive into the deep end, and for some of us, we may just put one toe at a time into the water. The key is to have some movement toward your goal. Success, transformation, and the magic is just outside of our comfort zone.Our movement outside of our comfort zone can start small. One of my clients began this move out of her comfort zone just by taking a different route to work and sitting in a different chair each time she met in the conference room.Here are some strategies to break through your comfort zone barrier:

  • Try something new (food, book topic, or music)
  • Attend a lecture or presentation on a topic you know nothing about (I did this recently and was fascinated with the learning)
  • Identify your habits and look at those habitual behaviors with fresh eyes to uncover the expiration date
  • Find a buddy or accountability partner – maybe even take on this project together for support
  • Be honest, loving, and patient with yourself as you embark on this journey

OK, here is the challenge: Challenge yourself to commit to one activity outside your comfort zone each day for 21 days and watch your world change, and open before you.I would love to hear from you. Please share your wins of moving outside your comfort zone so we can celebrate!With love,Maria

Why Developing Thick Skin Is Not Necessary

Someone asked me the other day, “How can you develop a thick-skin at work?” My initial response, “Develop a strong heart.”Growing up, I was often teased because of my over-bite. Called many names at school, I came home frequently collapsing into a pile of tears. My mother would tell me to ignore the bully’s hurtful comments and eventually they would stop. I did experience some truth in this, but what was even more impactful, were her words, “Maria, you are beautiful, they just don’t see it.” Of course, she was referring to my inner beauty. I knew my outer beauty would catch up once I got braces!Why is it that as adults we still feel the need to toughen up and not let other people’s words hurt us? Could it be that we forgot our inner beauty?If so, do not worry. Reclaiming our inner beauty and strengthening our heart is easy to do. Developing a strong heart begins with self-love.Practice these ten steps and in no time, you will not need a thick skin because you will have a strong heart:

  1. List your strengths. Next to each one, identify how you may leverage your strong points.
  2. Create an action plan for personal and professional growth.
  3. Reconnect with your intuition.
  4. Do something creative every day.
  5. Spend time in stillness each day.
  6. Get enough sleep. Six to eight hours are recommended for optimum health.
  7. Move your body every day. Some days it may only be walking to the mailbox.
  8. Eat foods that nourish your body in healthy ways.
  9. List at least five things each day for which you are grateful.
  10. Find ways to help others see their greatness.

What are some additional ways you strengthen your heart?With love,Maria

Teach To Reach Transformational Leadership

I love the Buddhist saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my many years of teaching formal courses at the university level, I am a student right along with the class I am teaching. When I teach, I learn. I have yet to teach a class where I have not learned something from my many teachers, also known as my students. We are ever changing in this world and the cycle of learning and teaching never changes, unless of course we find ourselves closed off from learning. In order to be a good teacher, we must first be a good student.As we teach, we must remember that we are not transmitting information—we are transforming lives. That may sound a bit dramatic, but that is exactly what good teaching does; it transforms. Transformation comes about through many different forms: motivation, persuasion, mobilization, influence, and of course miracles.When we teach, we are in essence saying, I care about you, you are important, and I want to help. Wow, who wouldn’t be motivated forward with that type of message?Motivation also comes from demonstrating belief in others. Teaching affords us an opportunity to build esteem and self-efficacy. Think of Maslow’s needs hierarchy of needs; esteem and self-actualization are the top highest levels. Teaching and learning meet both of the high order needs for yourself and for those you teach.Through the process of teaching, we build trust when we facilitate teaching with a learner-centered approach. Remembering that we are not just transferring information, but transforming others, we teach according to the needs of others. I use the same approach when I do training, coaching, or motivational speaking. First, I discover the needs of the audience and tailor my work to meet those needs. Of course, I provide resources and information to support their transformation, but first I must find out where they are now and where they want to grow.Effective teachers in a classroom setting know this and adjust their lesson plans to accommodate emerging needs that come up during instruction. We call these moments, teachable moments, when we can seize the opportunity and use it as a springboard for learning.A Native American proverb illustrates this concept, “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” Once we identify the needs of the people and address those needs, then learning occurs and the outcome is performance.So remember this TEACH acronym:

Time – Take the time to invest in the development of others.Empathy – Have empathy for those you teach, respecting the place where they are at that moment.Awareness – Come into the teaching exchange with full awareness and presence.Care – Create a safe space for learning to occur that is filled with care and compassion.Help –Remember that when we serve others, we are truly love-based leaders.

I would love to hear from you. How do you teach in your leadership role? Who was your best teacher and why?With love,Maria

What Is Your Leadership Image?

Last year I went to the police station to be fingerprinted as a requirement for a volunteer project I was working on and on the way home, I saw a man driving a small electric car. When I saw the car, I assumed one of his objectives for buying it was to leave less of a carbon imprint. This got me thinking about imprints...What if we were to consciously craft and design the imprint, the “fingerprint” we desire on the world? How would this change our leadership?Our print, imprints, or impressions are the lasting effects of our attitudes and behaviors. We leave these impressions whether we are aware of this fact or not—the prints are still there.Are we leaving those we “touch” with feelings of encouragement, empowerment, or love? Or, are we impressing people with negativity, helplessness, or fear?At what point in time do we consciously design our leadership impression? Is it when we have 200 people to lead? Is it when we are preparing for retirement? Or, is it now, with our own life, leading ourselves? I love the old proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”Consciously creating our imprints and impressions increases our leadership influence and effectiveness. In fact, I had a trip to New York City with four days of meeting with over 70 media representatives including television producers, writers, agents, and editors. I gave 2-minute pitches to all of these people, which felt like speed-dating! This got me thinking about the impression we make in 2 minutes, and how we could possibly influence someone to take action.This is not a whole lot different than leadership. What sort of impression do we make with our leadership influence in 2 minutes? What kind of impression do we want to make? What is the lasting or lingering thought we wish to impart on someone?Follow these simple IMAGE steps to create a lasting, positive impression:

Integrity – Stand in your integrity, be honest about who you are and what you stand for, demonstrating this with your behavior.Mannerisms – Be cognizant of your body language. Are you open or closed? Are you inviting? Are you demonstrating confidence?Appearance – Does your appearance match the impression and image you want to portray? Show up in presence as well, remembering to practice active listening more than speaking.Greeting – Greet others with openness, kindness, warmth, and a smile. People do not always remember what we say to them, but they always remember how they felt when with us.

Enjoy the experience. We are more attracted to fun and joy than anything else.I would love to hear from you. What is the impression and image you wish to impart? What immediate step can you take today to reinforce or refine this image?With love,Maria

What Uniform Do You Wear?

I flew to Philly to participate in a conference where I met up with my brother-in-law Johnny, a Colonel in the Marine Corp Reserves. We had a great dinner and were greeted warmly by everyone in our path. Johnny was in uniform, having just come from a funeral where he was a pallbearer. Strangers opened the door for him, sent over an appetizer, refused to accept his money for coffee at Starbucks, and thanked him for his service and his many sacrifices.This got me thinking…Johnny wore his uniform outwardly and consciously. How many of us, as leaders, are aware of the uniforms we wear? We are leaders and touch other people’s lives whether we are conscious of it or not.What messages are we giving to others by the uniforms we wear? Are they uniforms of service and value? Uniforms of greed? Uniforms of arrogance? Uniforms of fear? Uniforms of love? What is the story of your uniform? Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” This struck me on several levels.First, I think that many of us are afraid to change or “get rid of” our current life, even if our current life is not serving us well. We are fearful of the unfamiliar and even if the current situation is unhealthy, dysfunctional, or negative, it is familiar – and that familiarity is enough to keep people stuck and paralyzed.Then I started thinking about the “old skin” and how this is such a beautiful metaphor of how we cover ourselves with a skin, mask, or armor. You know the old skin…it is the stories we tell and believe that keeps us stuck. The skin is also a mask that we sometimes hide behind, so we don’t really have to show up. The skin is also armor we put on to “protect” us from being hurt. The problem with armor is that nothing can penetrate from either direction, meaning we cannot send out love, compassion, or joy.While Joseph Campbell may have been referring to radical change, this rich quote is also applicable to small changes. Like I often tell my clients, sometimes only a minor shift or course correction is necessary. A ten-degree shift may be all we need to shed our old skin and start living the life waiting for us.What are you waiting for?Is it time to shed our skin, masks, or armor? Is it time to change our uniforms or take them to the dry cleaners? Or, is it time to redesign our uniforms? How would you design your uniform?I would love to hear from you. What uniform are you currently wearing and what is the uniform you would like to be wearing?With love,Maria

6 Steps To Self-Empowerment

I love the word empowerment, which means a state of being “in power.” According to Merriam-Webster, the word has three definitions:

  1. to give official authority or legal power
  2. to enable
  3. to promote the self-actualization or influence of

When we self-empower, we are the ones to give authority, enable, and promote the self-actualization of ourselves! We give ourselves permission to be the best we can be, to live the best lives we choose.Stepping into your power includes the following six actions:

  1. We must walk through the doors of awareness to begin any practice of self-growth.
  1. Identify any barriers that may hold you back, especially any negative self-talk or negative voices. List all of the negative thoughts that keep you from standing in your power and ask yourself if it is really true. Then ask yourself whom would you be without that thought? Design a plan based on your response.
  1. Find your voice. Is it hidden under a blanket of self-doubt, fear, or insecurity? Identify these gremlins and negative voices and divorce yourself from them.
  1. Identify any underlying beliefs you may have that no longer serve you and dismiss those to the wind.
  1. Give yourself permission. Like the great Nike ad, Just do it! Kick fear to the door and be the person you want to be. Be bold and be love. As Basil King said, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
  1. Find a coach or accountability partner to work with.

One of my favorite quotes from Marianne Williamson describes self-empowerment:“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”Who are you not to be empowered?With love,Maria

Power Meets Empowerment

Power…now that is a word that will bring about different mental models for different people!As our nation moves into one of the greatest rights we have as American’s – the privilege and right to vote, we are deluged with messages of power. These messages are wrapped in fear, hope, darkness, and light. Power is both greatly misunderstood and misused.Empowerment, too, is a concept that conjures up different impressions for different people. At a recent seminar where we presented the three pillars of Love-Based Leadership, we discussed empowerment and the varied perceptions of power. As a leader, power is one of the aspects we expect in leadership. Unfortunately, for many of us, the image of power is one of aggression, dominance, and fear. This type of power can in fact motivate people, but it is not sustaining. This type of power grows resentment in the eyes and hearts of the followers.Power can be silent and strong, wrapped in love of self, source, and others. Power can be grace-filled and strong; and power can be assertive and strong. Power comes in many disguises, including giving away power—also known as empowerment.Empowerment has almost become a generic term, cliché in some circles. However, empowerment is one of the most effective tools of power any leader can use. One of my favorite quotes from Lao Tzu describes the practice of empowerment:As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear, and the next, the people hate. When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, “We did it ourselves!”Empowerment for us simply means to stand in power—our own power. How do we stand in our power? Comment your thoughts below, and do not worry, I will discuss those steps in detail soon. See you then.With love,Maria

Amazing Leaders All Lead With Intention

For many, intention is defined as a motivation, a drive, or an ambition to succeed. It can be a demonstration of force, determination, or your immutable will to attain or accomplish something indicates that you have a firm intention.These are examples of our Western mental models of intention. A deeper understanding of the power of intention, described by Carlos Castaneda, suggests, “In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link”.Similar in description to how Wallace Wattles describes this intention in his book, “The Science of Getting Rich”. Wattles wrote: “There is a thinking stuff which all things are made, and which in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe. A thought in this substance, produces the thing that is imaged by the thought. Man can form things in his thought, and by impressing his thought upon formless substance, can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.”This is not a model of perseverance or a mindset where only the fit (determined) survive, but a realization, again, of the connection to each other and Spirit. What this model of intention describes for us, as leaders, is that we are not alone in this organization, community, country, or even universe: but we are together, linked to the energetic force of intention.Why is intention crucial to our leadership? It is the purpose, the why we are here, our belief in something greater than we are. Intention is how we derive meaning. In order to create a vision for our companies, or even our lives, we must first ask, “why?” Tapping into the power of intention requires clearing space in our minds and allowing and trusting our intuitive insights to flow.Here are some strategies we can use to ensure that we are leading with intention:

  1. Knowing our values helps bring clarity to what is meaningful to us. Identify ten important values. Narrow the list down to your top five and write a sentence or two explaining what the values mean to you and why they are important.
  2. Look at your calendar and review how you spend your time. Do the activities on your calendar align with your values? If not, why not?
  3. Create a mind map on a clean sheet of paper, and in the center of the paper write, “My purpose for living this life is…” and circle it. Now draw lines out from this circle with as many ideas that flow into your head and heart and draw circles around each one of those words or statements, always connecting the circles with lines to the center circle of your purpose.
  4. Using the above information you have developed, write a purpose statement, including the activities involved in achieving that purpose, people necessary to support you, and the value you provide to others.

Enjoy the process and see what you discover!I would love to hear from you. What is your purpose statement? Let’s share those and celebrate our clear intentions together.With love,Maria