Wakeup Call!

When sleeping women wake, mountains move. ~ Chinese proverbI love the power of this statement. I would like to expand it to read, “When sleeping people wake, mountains move.”The most obvious interpretation of this is when we get into our day with focused attention; we get a lot of work done.But ahhh, as we know, Chinese proverbs go much deeper, and so do I, so let’s get right to it!When we “wake up” from unconsciousness, we move obstacles and barriers to love – also known as fear and ego. Our fear and ego sometimes feels like mountains. The only way to “move” the mountains is to eliminate the fear and ego with the supreme power of love.We can only know the truth of love with consciousness.It is time to set the alarm – this is a wakeup call! Good morning mountain movers.What practices do you do to stay “awake” and conscious? I always love to hear from you and sharing your insight.With love from your fellow mountain mover,Maria

What Makes Greatness in Leadership?

Great leadership is highly sought after. These are the three qualities that I think are most important. What would you say are yours?With Love and To Your Success,Maria

Let Freedom Ring

Happy Independence Day to all of my fellow Americans!Today is a day that we celebrate life’s freedom with gratitude. I have a very long list of life’s freedoms for which I am grateful. Topping that list is my ability to make choices.And we always can make a choice…always!Dr. Viktor Frankl, one of my greatest mentors, was a brilliant psychiatrist captured by the Nazis and imprisoned in a series of concentration camps. His notes of his work and all of his possessions were seized. Stripped of everything, literally and figuratively, he was given a number to replace his name. “The experience of camp life shows that man does have a choice of action,” Frankl stated in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.”Dr. Frankl realized this truth when he wrote, “What alone remains is ‘the last of human freedoms’—the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”Those are very wise and applicable words then, and today. When we place ourselves in a victim role, we are victims. We do create our own realities. However, we have a choice in how that reality looks, as co-creators. We can choose to create a different perception, a different reality.Let freedom ring!With love,Maria

Strategic Doing

We just completed the season for local government strategic planning. I’ve seen and used many different strategies for the strategic planning process. Brainstorming sessions are great fun, looking at possibilities. As we start to drill down our brainstorming into goals, hopefully actionable, SMART goals, the more real our planning becomes. Stating the goals, listing the objectives, and identifying the milestones are all necessary elements to your strategic plan.I’ve see so many great plans brought to this point. Strategic plan done, check that box! However, the plan means nothing if there is not strategic doing.Strategic doing is where the real work begins. We need to pull the plan off of the shelf and put the pedal to the medal. It is time to start doing the strategy. The strategy I find most effective in this action planning process is:

  1. Start with the end goal in mind. For example, if you were to complete Project A in 12 months, determine what success looks like at the completion of that goal.
  2. Next, determine what needs to be done in month 11 to reach your goal in 12 months.
  3. Then determine what needs to be done in month 10 to reach month 11 deliverables.
  4. Determine what needs to be done in month 9 to reach month 10 deliverables.
  5. Continue this process until you’ve identified the necessary actions for the current month.
  6. Identify who is responsible for each of the deliverables needed each month.
  7. Agree to how reporting will be communicated and how often.
  8. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! Make sure to celebrate the small wins along the way as well as the big wins at the completion of your goal. This keeps energy up and focus tight.

As always, I love to hear from you. What are some tactics you use for strategic doing?With Love and To Your Success,Maria

Get a Grip on Organization

I’ve always considered myself as an organized person, but I must admit that sometimes I get overwhelmed and lose control of my time and organization. In those times of overwhelm, I need to get a grip!Very recently, I found myself in this space of needing to regain control of my time and organization. I realized that nearly every time I got to this place I experienced the same symptoms in my thoughts and behaviors. I feel:

  • Overwhelmed and find it difficult to concentrate.
  • Unorganized and cannot find key files, papers, or other information.
  • Paralyzed by uncertainty and just where to begin.
  • Forgetful and miss deadlines or appointments.

Unable to plan due to many, many dark clouds hanging over my head, these are telling signs that I need to get a grip on my organization. When I recognize these symptoms, I do the following simple steps to re-gain control over my life (especially as part of my New Year’s Resolution!):

  • Write everything down that is in my head and hanging out in those dark clouds. When I do this, I create white space literally and figuratively.
  • Determine and/or revamp my file system to capture notes, to-do action items, projects, and other information.
  • Create a plan with timelines and stick to it.
  • Celebrate the mini-successes!

The simple steps outlined above give me structure, which in turn gives me freedom! When I am free of clutter and dark clouds, I am able to concentrate, create, and plan. On Thursday, I will share with you my most recent file system, my Freedom Filing System.With love and no overwhelm,Maria

Challenge Your Perspective, Change Your Future

Perceptions are the stories we tell ourselves regarding what we see and how we interpret the world around us. Les Brown, one of the great 21st century storytellers said, “How people live their lives is as a result of the stories that they believe about themselves,” What are your stories?Do they serve you as your aspire to reach your highest potential? Do your stories lift you up or do they bring you down? Do your stories represent who you really are, your true essence?Let’s look at a possible story: If you greeted someone in the morning at work and he or she did not return your greeting, what would you think? Are they mad at you? Do you wonder all morning what you may have said to tick them off? Do you toss and turn that night because you’re afraid that when you laughed too loudly at something they said two weeks ago that you thought was a joke, but it turned out it wasn’t?Or what if the answer is simply that they didn’t return your greeting because they didn’t hear you. Or perhaps, they were distracted replaying a discussion they had with their teenager the night before.What are the stories that you tell yourself? These skewed perceptions can sabotage our relationships with others and our relationship with our self. If your stories no longer resonate with who you are, it’s probably time to create a new story. Change your perception and you change your world.The uncomplicated beauty in this lesson is that by standing in awareness and looking at our beliefs and thoughts, we can simply make a choice to keep them or release them.When we release those beliefs and thoughts that no longer serve us, we take back our power from fear to love, from negativity to positivity, from ego to Spirit. We see and understand perceptions and stand in our power to change those beliefs to experience miraculous shifts in our reality, lives, and work.As always, I love to hear from you. What story do you tell? Does it serve you or drain you?

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

Leadership from Management Separateness & How to Incorporate Authenticity & Vulnerability

The debate continues – should we separate leadership from management? We explore that question and look through a self-awareness lens at authenticity and vulnerability.In my experience, the words leadership and management are used interchangeably in the workplace. In the management and leadership classes I've taught over the years, we define those terms differently, while recognizing that leadership is a critical part of management. In this episode, we look to Forrest Gump’s mamma for some sage advice about this distinction.I recently facilitated a leadership boot camp where we discussed the importance of leadership authenticity and vulnerability – yes, in a boot camp!  Of course, going to those vulnerable places begins with self-awareness and a ton of bravery.In this episode, I answer the question, “What do Forrest Gump, The Who, and leadership have in common?”I would love to hear from you. What do you suppose keeps us from our vulnerability and authenticity as leaders?With love,Maria

A New Professionalism and Emotional Intelligence

What would a new professionalism look like? 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. Developing emotional intelligence in the workplace with leaders and all levels of the organization will help to create a new professionalism.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.In today’s video, I share what a new professionalism looks like.I would love to hear from you. How would you create a new professionalism and what does it look like?With love,Maria

Your Circle of 5

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 hearthese 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. his 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?Maria

Strong Heart, Strong Mind

Someone asked me, “How can you develop a thick-skin at work?” My initial response was “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, don’t worry. Reclaiming our inner beauty and strengthening our hearts 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:

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

I would love to hear from you. How do you strengthen your heart?

With Love,

Maria

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone When Leadership is Needed

How do you know when leadership is needed? Why is it necessary to move out of your comfort zone?

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! The other day, I had such an encounter. Seth Godin got my attention when he wrote, “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 on to something, and that something is usually growth!In this episode, I share a positive perspective on Seth Godin’s list for when leadership is needed.I would love to hear from you. What do you think? What is outside of your comfort zone that is holding you back? When was a time you moved outside of your comfort zone and how did you do it? How did it feel on the other side?With love,Maria

Are You Experienced?

Have you ever driven away from your home and looked back to see if you closed the garage door? Awareness is tricky that way. How can we be more mindful at work? Why practice awareness in the workplace?

We must first be self-aware before we can begin effective, meaningful relationships with others. As a leader, awareness is the foundation on which to build your leadership skills. Don’t get me wrong, many leaders go about their day-to-day activities unconsciously leading, struggling, and wondering why it is so darn hard. The answer is that we must first effectively lead ourselves if we are to lead others successfully.Luckily, we can practice three simple steps to cultivate awareness and become a better leader.I would love to hear from you. When was the moment when you became fully aware? What are some steps you use to stay in awareness?With love,Maria

Let's Get Our Mental On!

Why is it sometimes difficult to deal with other people’s opinions at work? How can we work as a team with so much diversity, diverse thinking, and different mental models?I’ve worked with many clients and teams who ask these very questions. Our mental models are the ways in which we view the world, our own personal lenses, and filters. Mental models are so deeply ingrained that we’re not even consciously aware of them.The danger of being unaware of our mental models is that our ability to leap to assumptions and make decisions and conclusions based on those mental models can be destructive and harmful to our organizations.Three simple techniques help us achieve mental model awareness. The beauty in all of this is to not only just recognize the mental models in ourselves, but to recognize the mental models of our team members and those with whom we communicate.I would love to hear from you. What are some mental models you are aware of that have held you back? What beliefs have your formed from your experiences?With love,Maria

Gratitude Challenge

Writing about gratitude is one of my favorite topics, as I have written blogs, articles, and chapters about the virtues of thankfulness. As we approach Thanksgiving, I cannot help but revisit this topic again. It warms my heart to see the 30-day challenge many people have taken in this month. I see tweets and Facebook posts with gratitude expressed each day for someone or something in their lives. Woohoo!

I would love to see the challenge extend another month, quarter or year commitment to keeping a gratitude journal or gratitude board in your home or office. Challenge yourself to find elements of gratitude in the mundane or laborious tasks we do on a daily basis. How about a super-challenge of finding what you may be grateful for with a challenging individual. In that difficult situation, try to see the spirit in them; or how you might be grateful for the lessons you are learning from that difficult person or situation. Forgiveness is a powerful door to open the flow of gratitude.You know how much I love the use of acronyms, so here goes one for gratitude:GivingReceivingAbundanceThankfulnessIntentionTogetherUnconditionallyDirectedEveryoneWhen we are in a state of gratitude, we give and receive love and abundance. We are thankful for the intentional way we choose to live our lives. This awareness brings us together to unconditionally direct our love and gratitude to everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving.

With love and gratitude,Maria Dr. Maria Church, CPC, is a leadership coach, speaker, and author of Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance and her upcoming book, A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Leadership, Love, and Life. Maria holds a doctorate of management in organizational leadership, teaches at several universities, and is CEO of Dr. Maria Church International LLC, a leadership coaching, development, and training firm. For more information, visit www.DrMariaChurch.com.

Clutter Stress

This is the time of year when we go through our closets, files, and other places that tend to get cluttered throughout the year. Perhaps this de-cluttering ritual exists to prepare ourselves for the holidays and many more guests in our home. In any case, it is always so freeing to go through the ritual of de-cluttering and taking back our space.When we are surrounded with clutter, our stress levels increase making it more difficult to stay alert and committed to our goals and tasks. Clearing is so helpful for us to stay focused on our work and reaching our goals in the home stretch of this year. It gives us the white space literally and figuratively to work with clarity and without distraction.In today’s blog, I want to share with you a book that has helped me tremendously with this process. The book, Throw Out Fifty Things[1], author Gail Blanke suggests Four Rules of Disengagement.  I like the simplicity of her rules and have simplified them even more!  These four rules are a powerful guideline for un-cluttering.Rules of Engagement:

  1. How you feel: If the stuff in your space hinders movement, makes you feel bad, feels like it weighs you down, is in the way of getting to something, get rid of it.
  2. Addition factor: If the stuff just sits there adding nothing to your life, saps your energy, does not give you joy, get rid of it.  Remember that standing still is not really static, while everything or everyone around you moves forward, standing still is just another way of moving backward.  Get rid of the negative to make room for the positive.
  3. KISS principle – Keep It Simple Silly:  There is no reason to make these keep or toss decisions complicated.  If you have to think about keeping or tossing too long, get rid of it.
  4. Kick fear to the door:  You are reclaiming your time, creativity, and productivity.  You are reclaiming your life!  This is not a dress rehearsal, this is it, your time, your life.  You can’t afford not to un-clutter.  As Nike has taught us, Just Do It!

In Thursday’s blog I’ll share with you 7 steps to guide you as you move from room to room. Good luck!With love,Maria

Dr. Maria Church, CPC, is a leadership coach, speaker, and author of Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance and her upcoming book, A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Leadership, Love, and Life. Maria holds a doctorate of management in organizational leadership, teaches at several universities, and is CEO of Dr. Maria Church International LLC, a leadership coaching, development, and training firm. For more information, visit www.DrMariaChurch.com.

[1] Blanke, G. (2009). Throw out fifty things: Clear the clutter, find your life. New York, NY: Grand Central Life & Style.

Where Did the Time Go?

We are deep into the fall season and closing in on Halloween. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, kicking off the holiday season. So many joyful ceremonies, practices, and events fill the season with activity. The challenge for some of us is how easily time slips away during this very active time of year.You may want to consider a pause now, to refocus, plan, and strategize how you are going to enjoy this active season and still accomplish what you want. Be cautious and aware that activity does not necessarily mean productivity. We can easily busy ourselves with the actions of web surfing, shopping, and internet chatting. The illusion that accompanies this busy action is that we’ve been “working”. With awareness, you can guarantee this will not happen to you.A few simple steps can help you maintain you focus and accomplish what you set out to do:

  • Turn off your email notifications and only check it at scheduled times throughout the day.
  • If you enjoy social media, save it for the end of the day like a reward for staying focused.
  • Put your phone on “Do not disturb” when you are working on a task that requires your 100% attention.
  • Close your door for un-interrupted time each day so those around you know not to disturb you during those times.
  • Move your desk so it is not facing the door.
  • If people have a tendency to park themselves in the chairs in your office, remove the chairs and only bring them in for meetings.
  • Unclutter your mind by purging “to do’s” onto paper.

These very simple steps will help you focus with greater ease.What are some strategies you do to maintain your focus? I am sure we all would love to know!With love,MariaDr. Maria Church, CPC, is a leadership coach, speaker, and author of Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance and her upcoming book, A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Leadership, Love, and Life. Maria holds a doctorate of management in organizational leadership, teaches at several universities, and is CEO of Dr. Maria Church International LLC, a leadership coaching, development, and training firm. For more information, visit www.DrMariaChurch.com.