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

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

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

3 Steps for Leadership to Build Mindfulness

Are our minds, hearts, and spirits truly present? So often, we are replaying in our head the argument we may have had with a spouse, the traffic on the way to work, or the e-mail we just read. How different would it be if we really showed up—mind, body, and spirit? How would our mindfulness, with these three steps, affect our communication, our connection and relationships…our leadership?We’ve learned and studied so much about good communication skills and body language that many of us have mastered the art of “listening” with our bodies. Bodies leaning in, head nodding, eyes fixed on the other person, yet all the while our minds are anywhere but in that conversation.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’re 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.Here are three steps to practice presence and soon enough, you’ll definitely be showing up!Not only is a mindful practice one that provides clarity, vision, connection, and beauty, but also being present in the moment creates 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.When we find this connection with others through mindfulness, we gain a deeper understanding of each other and of ourselves. We understand ourselves better when we connect with others. It’s 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.As always, I love to hear from you. What practices do you do to show up? How would you like to show up differently and what will you do to accomplish stronger presence?With love,Maria

Coloring the Lines of Leadership

What in the world, do these three things have in common?Everything.As leaders, we have a responsibility to lead and inspire with clarity. In our busy world, we often don’t take the time to just think and get really clear about the vision and more importantly, the path, systems, and steps necessary to realize the vision.And even worse, we think we have to get there on our own.Well, the good news is that we are not on our own.Prayer and meditation are ways we connect with our Source. Stillness and silence are also paths to feeling that connection with the Universe. French philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal stated, “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.”Through stillness, we obtain clarity. When we have clarity, we have time gained. Time gained comes to us because we have a clearer picture of the problem or dilemma and see an unobstructed path to follow.I cannot think of a more cost efficient use of time. The return on investment with time spent in silence with our Source is abundance beyond our wildest dreams. Some color mandalas, some bring mats to work to meditate, while others simply take time during a pause in the day to find their Source connection.As always, I love hearing your thoughts, what topics would you cover if you were meditating on a lunch break?With love,Maria

The Bull S#%T About Power

Let’s break open the lid on the belief that power must be kept tightly in order to be effective – BULL S#%T!Power, like abundance and love, multiplies when you give it away.That is why I cannot understand why leaders are so afraid to share power and empower others. Last week we discussed micromanagement, but I want to emphatically drive this point home:Power multiplies when you give it away – really!Boleman and Deal wrote in Leading with Soul, “When people have a sense of efficacy and an ability to influence their world, they usually seek to be more productive. They direct their energy and intelligence toward making a contribution rather than obstructing progress or destroying their enemies.” At the former Saturn automobile factories, employees were empowered to stop the assembly line any time they see something wrong. The employees held pride and ownership in their product and they became part of the quality control.Another benefit of shared power is reduction in conflict. We often suppress our feelings when we feel powerless. When this happens, our anger can only be contained for so long, then the conflict and anger comes spewing out, often times in a rage or sarcasm. Empowered people empower others. In a Love-Based Leadership organization, shared power equals shared ownership. You cannot have one without the other.How do YOU empower those around you?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

Student of 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; 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 stuck 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.Remember this acronym:

  • Time – Take the time to invest in the development of others.
  • Empathy – Have empathy for those you teach, respecting the place they are in 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.

How do you teach in your leadership roles? I love hearing from you.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

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

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

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 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

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

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