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
Ordinarily every January we celebrate the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—his life, his work, and his love. His most famous speech, “I Have a Dream” inspired us toward action for equality, justice, and love. From his masterful and inspirational orations, I’ve selected 11 key quotes on leadership that encourage me even now.I have a dream, too. In fact, I am sure you too, have a dream… and I venture to guess that it is similar to my dream…a collective dream. That dream is the radical, necessary, ubiquitous dream of shifting from a world steeped in fear, to a love-based world.I want to share with you some inspiring words from Dr. King and a great leadership lesson in the message:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Remember, it ALWAYS comes back to love, so why not just start with love?“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” As leaders, we must step out and up on faith, because what else do we REALLY have?“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” The time is NOW to return to our spiritual compass, guidance, and Source.“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Again, simply, LOVE.“A man can't ride your back unless it's bent.” Stand firm, erect in your power, and do not succumb to the fear of victimhood.“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” The call of a love-based leader…to serve others.“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Love-based leaders continue to grow, learn, and live in wisdom.“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Forgiveness, to give it and receive it is the POWER of LOVE.“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Speak up and out; show up and lead.“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” DO NOT die with the song of passion still in you.“The time is always right to do what is right.” … and the time is always right to love.
As always, I love to hear from you. What would you say is your favorite quote on love? Tag me on Facebook!With love,Maria
One of the most effective ways to teach is through storytelling. Nietzsche stated, “The more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more you must allure the senses to it.” That is exactly what storytelling does; it allures the senses.Throughout history, the art of storytelling demonstrates this powerful technique used to teach. Aristotle, Plato, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, Gibran, Hemingway, Emerson, and even Bob Dylan and Smokey Robinson have allured us with their gifted storytelling. This clear form of teaching captures us through our feelings, connecting with us through our hearts.The emotional heart-tug we get with good stories heightens our attention and holds us captive. We are fully present in those captive moments of a great story, giving our undivided attention to the details. This technique presents an incredible opportunity for the learner to not only be present with full attention, but also to retain the information ready to call upon it when needed.An ironic yet valuable benefit of storytelling is that the audience (the learner) is present in the moment of learning and the story helps us prepare for future use of the content. When we learn from stories, we learn how they may relate to us. This is a critical element to successful storytelling: the ability to relate.When we teach through stories, we are essentially saying, “When Ann experienced this event, she felt ___________, and when she did ___________, she was successful. So when you feel ___________, try as Ann did and ____________, because you too may be successful!” This mental process the learner experiences helps them to remember the story concept because they are relating it to themselves.Identify a story you believe to be a good one and follow these six simple steps to practice the art of leadership storytelling:
- Describe the main characters. Include yourself because when leaders are humble, open, and willing to share stories portraying themselves as human, it helps to connect with their team.
- Portray the situation, challenge, or problem in detail. Explain what is at stake with the issue.
- Reveal the characters’ intentions, thoughts, and feelings with the situation. Also, express what their thoughts are with potential outcomes and how they feel about what is at stake.
- Explain the actions taken by the character, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more in-depth you are with the description of the actions, the more you may heighten the learner’s interest in the outcome.
- Discuss the tools that the characters used to take action. Include which tools worked and which ones did not. Keep in mind that the tools may be thoughts, perspectives, strategies, and so forth.
- Finally, share the outcome.
As always, I love to hear from you. What is the best story you’ve told about your leadership?With love,Maria
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?
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
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
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
Power and empowerment are not just buzzwords of the day, but can be an effective leadership strategy to move your team into action. Power is a word that brings about different mental models for different people. Many times messages of power are wrapped in fear, hope, darkness, and light. Power is both greatly misunderstood and terribly misused.Empowerment, too, is a concept that conjures up different impressions for different people.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 followers.In this episode, I share with you one of my favorite empowerment quotes by Lao Tzu and five steps to claim your power.I would love to hear from you. What is one immediate step you can take right now to self-empower?With love,Maria
We are much more effective leaders when we remove our leadership mask and lead with authenticity.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?In this episode, we explore the masks, uniforms, and armor we sometimes wear as leaders and challenge ourselves to shed the old skin.I would love to hear from you. What is the uniform you are currently wearing and what is the uniform you would like to be wearing?With love,Maria
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
As we come into the realization that we cannot keep doing “business as usual”, we are starting to see discussions about authentic leadership, conscious capitalism, and love-based leadership. In my book, Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance, I present a very simple, yet profound way to lead based on three pillars: Love of Self, Love of Source, and Love of Others.When I speak of love, I am talking about the universal concept of love – honoring and valuing one human being to another. When leading with the Love-Based Leadership (LBL) model, we find meaning, authenticity, value, abundance, and purpose in and through our leadership. Those we lead find motivation, creativity, loyalty, commitment to the task, and value in their jobs through meaning.Many of us share the common desire to find meaning in our daily work. A leadership model based on love recognizes the importance of living holistically by integrating love, health, wellness, work, and spirituality into all aspects of our life.In this episode, I share with you the three pillars of this holistic model and how we can practice love-based leadership in our organizations.I would love to hear from you. Who do you know is a love-based leader?With love,Maria
Did you know the majority of heart attacks occur around 9:00 AM on Monday mornings? “One study showed that the most common factor in these heart attacks was that the victims were people whose work had become joyless striving. In other words, they could not find meaning in their work, and their lives had become so out of balance that, one Monday morning, their bodies said, You are not going to work today. Zap.”* Researchers found those victims in a state of “joyless striving” – in other words, without meaning. In today’s video, I share with you five steps to get started on the path of self-discovery and meaning and read an excerpt from my book, Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance.I would love to hear from you. What techniques do you do to go inward?With love,Maria *Study cited in Leading with Soul” by Lee Boleman and Terrence Deal.
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