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

Choosing Your Circle of Five

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?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.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.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.Let’s be mindful with whom we choose to spend our time with, and our minds and time will be filled with wonder.With love,Maria

Using Your Backbone Not Wishbone

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, help, and love with those we met.My best example lately is when I chose to step up and out when I agreed to speak on a morning television talk show about my book, Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance. I love being on stage talking about my passion, teaching love and leadership, but I must admit this took me a bit out of my comfort zone. However, I coach and encourage others to reach their success; it is always just outside their comfort zone. It is time for me to put my backbone to work and not just my wishbone.Challenge yourself to commit to one activity outside your comfort zone each day (take the weekends off), watch your world change, and open before you.I love to hear your stories! Please share your wins of moving outside your comfort zone.With love and joy,Maria

Creativity Builds Connection

Practicing creativity not only helps leaders make quick, confident decisions, innovate, and problem solve; creativity also helps us interact with others at a higher level. Because creativity is a gift from God, planted in all of us, connecting energetically through creativity goes immediately to our souls. When we experience someone else’s creativity such as music, film, books, or art, we feel something deep down inside. That feeling is our energy of oneness, of our connection.While earning my undergraduate degree, I took an art appreciation course. During our study of abstract art, the professor had us describe how we felt while looking at each art piece. During the exercise, if any of us would say, “That looks like a ship,” she would mark points off our grade. This was an extremely valuable lesson to learn; she challenged us to use our other senses beyond our eyes, and stay in the creative side of our brain. Our logical side wanted to analyze the picture instead of conceptualizing the possibilities. I now do this practice anytime I experience art. I stay present and open to the beauty of an opera sung in another language through many senses beyond auditory. The creative energy moves from the actors to my soul, with complete understanding and clarity when I remember the lesson learned in that art appreciation course.Living in this creative zone is as beneficial for leaders as it is for artists. Observe artists at work, whether it is performing artists, painters, sculptors, writers, or designers. Artists are present in the moment of creating with razor sharp focus as the divine download fills the spaces of their mind, heart, and body.Pablo Picasso reminds us, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” The best way to start is do what we did as children—play. I had so much fun picking out crayons and a coloring book as an adult, although I purchased under the pretense of buying it for my niece! Let’s get the creative juices flowing with the abandonment of child-like play. Your play may include painting, drawing, Play Doh, dancing, dress-up, or whatever makes you smile.Let’s start today and create the world in which we live love. How do you get your creative juices flowing? I’d love to hear it – comment below!Love,Maria

Love is Stronger

This is my blog in the wake of last month’s insanity. Our children were killed on the other side of the world, our children on the other side of the country were slain, and our economies are in a political upheaval. And there were many, many other infractions to our brothers and sisters.

We must stop.We must stop the violence.We must stop the doomsday mentality.We must stop revenge.We must stop ignoring mental illness.We must stop pretending there is no darkness.We must stop destroying each other.We must stop destroying our planet.We must stop our apathy.We must stop our ignorance.We must stop our arrogance.We must stop creating an insane world.We must stop living in ego.We must stop choosing fear.We must stop sleepwalking.We must stop mindlessness.We must stop separation.We must stop pretending we are not connected to one another.We must stop pretending that we not connected to the Divine.

We must shift to a force stronger than greed, hatred, violence, revenge, and fear.And that other force…simply…love.Choose love.I’m in! Are you?With the intensity of divine love,Maria

Ownership With Love-Based Leadership

As leaders, we hope to motivate and influence people to reach a goal. One of the most powerful ways to accomplish team motivation is through ownership. I do not mean this in the literal sense, such as stock options or formal partnerships. I am referring to the figurative sense of ownership – which could be equally powerful.One of my favorite leadership quotes is by ancient Chinese philosopher and prophet, Lao Tzu, believed to be the creator of the Tao Te Ching, 500 years before the birth of Jesus. This quote by Lao Tzu simply and beautifully states the power of ownership:

With the greatest leader above them,People barely know one exists.Next comes one whom they fear.Next comes one whom they despise and defy.When a leader trusts no one,No one trusts him.The great leader speaks little.He never speaks carelessly.He works without self-interestAnd leaves no trace.When all is finished, the people will say,“We did it ourselves.”

In a love-based leadership organization, we trust our employees to problem-solve and innovate. We do not micromanage. We support our people with increased influence and motivation. Our organizations are more productive and our employees find meaning and satisfaction in their work, creativity, and ownership.Do you participate in a love-based leadership organization with a shared sense of ownership? Please share your experiences.With love,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.

The Top 6 Steps for Leadership Forgiveness

Because forgiveness is a state of being, action is required to move into that place or that state. Like so many other lessons, avoiding forgiveness is not static. Anger leads to judgment. (He is so mean, disrespectful, or vindictive when he did that to me. She is so arrogant that she didn’t even realize she hurt me.)Judgment leads to blame, and blame leads to resentment. Resentment is unresolved anger and resentment hurts us, manifesting in stress-related illness, anxiety, or depression. Resentment hardens our hearts paving a path of vengeance. We can lose ourselves in judgment, condemnation, and conflict, all the while wondering why we are not happy and content.Forgiveness is a choice. We take responsibility for our peace of mind and happiness when we choose to forgive. Many leaders think if we forgive, it is for the benefit of others. The primary advantage is that forgiveness benefits ourselves, and the primary function is removing ego separation bringing us back into our right mind with God. To make this choice, we experience a miracle.The process of experiencing the miracle of forgiveness is perception shifting. The change in attitude comes to us through grace. Cultivating a practice of forgiveness first begins with self-forgiveness. Dr. Robin Casarjian describes six steps to practice self-forgiveness in her book, Forgiveness:

  1. Acknowledge the truth.
  2. Take responsibility for what you have done.
  3. Learn from the experience by acknowledging the deeper feelings that motivated the behaviors and thoughts for which you now feel guilty and hold yourself in judgment.
  4. Open your heart to yourself and compassionately listen to the fears and calls for help and acknowledgment deep within.
  5. Heal emotional wounds by heeding the calls in healthy, loving, and responsible ways.
  6. Align with your Self and affirm your fundamental innocence.

By practicing self-forgiveness, always remember to be gentle with yourself, suspending judgment, allowing and receiving miracles in this holy space. The miracle and shift in perception and attitude gives us insight about others and ourselves.Practice self-forgiveness…why? The reason is just as the old L’Oréal commercial said, “Because I’m worth it!”With love,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.

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.

Service Not Sales In Organization Leadership

Organizational and leadership models throughout history, and still today, are like authoritative kingdoms. The ruling king or queen sits on their throne (corner office in the executive suite) and the serfs and subjects (subordinates and “team”) support them in any way necessary. Oh, we have the right words today—team, collaboration, and empowerment—unfortunately, in many organizations actions do not match the words.We know consciously and unconsciously these models do not work; however, we do not know how to replace them. As always, we just simply have to turn away from fear and stare right into the face of love. In those beautiful eyes, we find our answers.Service paves the path of leadership. Through love and a love-based leadership model, we serve others, our source, and ourselves. To make this miraculous shift in our perception about service, we must consciously be aware of leading with a service-mindset versus a sales-mindset. Many leaders I know lead with a sales-mentality, seeking “buy-in” from those they lead. They obtain buy-in through persuasion, manipulation, and control. These techniques can be effective, but the leader will not get long-term commitment. A service-mentality shifts from, “What can you do for me?” to, “What can I do for you?” This is similar to the phenomenon in marketing and product development happening today. Find out what they want and we’ll build it replaces the old mental model of build it and they will come. Leadership focus is on service, instead of self-interest.Uh-oh, the ego is not going to like this!Exactly.When leaders shift from sales to service-mindsets, organizations shift from a kingdom culture and hierarchical structure to community. I am not describing Utopia or something found only through rose-colored glasses; I am describing what can be, and what is in some organizations and communities. By serving and giving, we are more successful. The more we give, the more we receive; the more we serve, the more we are served. This again demonstrates that to wherever you put your attention, you will manifest that.How do you demonstrate service instead of sales?In loving service,Maria