We expect leaders, including ourselves, to have the answers. If we don’t have the answer to a leadership challenge, we may feel inadequate. These feelings, like inadequacy, may also include feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. None of these feelings feel good to us, nor areallowed in the workplace, or so we’ve been taught.Really? Are we really supposed to never experience uncertainty as a leader? We are human beings, “hard-wired for struggle” as researcher, Brene‘ Brown states. We are not the Hollywood version of leaders —we are human. And with our humanness, we are sometimes—make that many times, uncertain.What do we do with this uncertainty? Well, we bury it of course. This strategy may work for us for a while, that is until it shows up again as illness, ulcers, or worse. Why do you think we are so stressed, obese, and addicted? It is because we bury and numb our feelings. We’ve become comfortably numb.The interesting thing about numbing is that when we numb our “bad” feelings such as uncertainty, vulnerability, doubt, and fear, we are also numbing our “good” feelings of joy, peace, and gratitude. Another important aspect to know about uncertainty and vulnerability is that this state is where creativity, joy, and beauty are found. This is the place where great art is created.Walking through the door of uncertainty and vulnerability is full of endless possibilities because this is the location of our true, authentic self.How do we work with uncertainty and vulnerability without going crazy?Follow these five steps to support you during the uncertain times:1. Embrace uncertainty and vulnerability. Reach into it and pull up and out all of the fear, anxiety, and doubt. Burying and numbing will only allow it to surface again, so lean in, feel those feelings, and then release.2. Stay present. Don’t worry about the future or live in the past. The only moment you have is the present one, so why waste it?3. Stay in your own lane. When we start to compare ourselves to others, we set ourselves up for failure, not because we can’t be as successful as someone else, but because we can’t BE anyone else. What I can be is the best version of me, and what you can be is the best, highest self you can be.4. Practice gratitude. Nothing else will bring you into the present faster than gratitude.5. Be loving and truthful with yourself and with others. Remember that uncertainty and vulnerability is the birthplace of truth, authenticity, creativity, and beauty.I would love to hear from you. When was a time you were uncertain and did it anyway? Let’s celebrate you!
I saw this statement the other day: “I let go of anything and everything that could delay my good in any way.” -Louise Hay Hmmm… Of course, as I so often do, I contemplated how this might apply to leadership.Leadership is the action that motivates people toward a vision. Therefore, if the vision is the “good” in this statement, we need to ask ourselves, “What gets in the way that could cause delay of achieving my vision?” In other words, what no longer serves us? I discuss this topic a lot with my clients. It is a great exercise to stop and check-in with yourself regularly, asking, “what no longer serves me?”Some possible delays to our good or vision may include:• Underlying beliefs that no longer serve us• Ego• Clutter (literal and physical)• The need to be right• Noise (literal and physical)• Fear• Poor health• Lack of sleep• Lack of knowledge• Lack of anything…• Toxic relationshipsOnce you've identified what gets in your way of achieving your good or your vision, it is time to let it or them go. Time to move into action, ridding yourself of anything and everything that gets in your way. Brian Tracy, in his book, “Eat That Frog!” offers some great suggestions for getting out of the procrastination habit. Mark Twain was the inspiration for the book title and overall premise of getting procrastination out of the way.Mark Twain said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you go to through you day with the satisfaction of knowing that is probably the worst thing that would happen to you all day long. So eat your frog and know that it is the time to start exercising your backbone instead of your wishbone.>>>You are the architect of your life, the author of your book. This is not a dress rehearsal.<<<If you don’t like what you see…change it!I would love to hear from you. What are some of the strategies you use to work through delays and detours? How do you eat your frog?Let’s continue our discussion after the episode. With Love,Maria
For many of the leaders I work with, delegation is a real struggle.Leaders resist delegating because we are so accustomed to doing the work ourselves. Many times, fear will rear its ugly head, thinking that if we want the work done correctly, we must do it ourselves. And then there is the time issue of communicating and training others to complete the task for us.Ahhh, but the benefits of delegation far outweigh the negativity that surrounds this illusive skill. When we delegate, we have more time for our high-priority tasks and we actually get to experience the joy of completing our tasks! Delegation increases our productivity and is a muchbetter use of our resources.Delegation gives us freedom from chaos and confusion. True, there are some tasks best kept to ourselves such as personal matters, confidentialactivities, crises, and activities that are specifically delegated to us. However, we can delegate paperwork, routine tasks, technical matters, tasks with developmental potential, and employee problems that we do not need to be involved in. Since we are not born with the delegation gene, we must learn this skill. It’s not as hard as you think! Just follow these four simple steps and you will be delegating before you know it:1. Explain the need for delegating, including the reasons why you selected that personto complete the task.2. Clearly set the objectives defining responsibility, level of authority, and deadlines.3. Develop a plan to achieve objectives, resources, and give the authority necessary toobtain those resources.4. Establish an accountability plan with checkpoints.Somehow we’ve managed to complicate the idea of holding people accountable, and it is quite simple, really, I mean simple, the acronym, SIMPLE: S = Set clear expectations – this is the number one complaint and stressor from employees – that the expectations are vague.I = Invite commitment – some say gain “buy in” but I much prefer to invite commitment. With an invitation, there is a shared sense of ownership.M= Measure progress – Super important to keep up on this. How you will measure is part of the description of setting clear expectations.P = Provide feedback – again, super important. Far too often managers will wait until the project is finished to say that it wasn’t done correctly.L = Link to consequences – consequences are also identified in the setting clear expectations step.E = Evaluate effectiveness – Do this together and it becomes a powerful activity for you and the person who is accountable.I would love to hear from you. What are some techniques you use to hold people accountable and why do you think the strategies are effective?With Love,Maria
Living with two bulging, herniated discs can be a pain (no pun intended), especially in our rainy season, when my back seems extra sore. During a family barbecue, my sister, who is an RN, asked if I was experiencing pain. When I asked why she inquired, she said that I looked like I was guarding. This is a medical term indicating when a person has pain somewhere in their body they become rigid as though to protect the area from further pain or injury. We do the same in our lives with our minds and hearts. We protect ourselves from perceived pain…basically, we guard. To be open, for many of us, means to be vulnerable. We’ve been open and we’ve been hurt--at least that explains some of the our experiences.Ego loves it when we stay closed and works over-time to ensure we do not enter openness. “Remember when you did that before and this happened?” is one of the many voices of ego. When we are open, the gates of Divine guidance, to intention, to the flow of Spirit happen. Closing the gates of our minds and hearts is insanity.Why do the barriers to openness show up, guarding our sacred spaces, putting another brick in the wall? Ego, again is the answer. Blocks to openness manifest in the forms of negative voices cemented in our dialogue and culture. Evidence of this insanity in our workplaces includes statements like,” Nice guys finish last”, or when considering doing something nice for someone, like a favor, we hear, ”If you do that for one, you’ll have to do it for everyone”, or “No good deed goes unpunished”.Opening our perceptions and inviting in Spirit through surrender, allows healing of the mind and heart to take place. Through healing, the ego no longer has hold on the barriers and blocks to the gates of openness. Just as a clenched fist cannot receive a gift, a closed mind cannot grow and a closed heart cannot receive love.So how can we practice openness? Here are three strategies to being open:1. The first step is reflection. In what areas of your life do you feel closed or blocked toopenness? Work? Love? Spirituality? Journal your thoughts.2. Practice random acts of kindness. These don’t need to be grand gestures,sometimes the smaller the better!3. Develop compassion and let go of your need to be right.I would love to hear from you. What are some other ways can we practice being open?With love,Maria
I write and speak a lot about fear versus love. Fear is easy to identify. We definitely know when fear starts to creep in: our body becomes tense, blood pressure starts to rise, and feelings of anxiety emerge. Fear is not a good feeling! Why would we continue to go there repeatedly? Where love and spirit are internal to us, fear and ego are external. Turning to others for approval or acceptance, points us in the direction of ego, external to ourselves. When we live in the past, we live in the ego.It’s the same old song.Reliving those events, involving externally generated relationships, can cause tremendous pain or hurt. Each time we choose – yes, it is a choice –to live in the space of fear, we give away our power. We give it away to people or circumstance – again, an external event. When we retain our power, we are empowered, living in a place of love and spirit.Fear paralyzes us. True, fear can be a motivator, but it is not sustainable. We cannot be motivated and live in fear for long periods without paying the physical, emotional, and spiritual costs of fear and stress. Fear, again, holds us back from achieving so much. We’re afraid to show that we care, afraid to open our hearts, and afraid that we may appear vulnerable. The irony in this is that when we really care about the individuals we lead, love multiplies. When people know, see, and feel that you care—they do the same. Love really does keep on giving.Moving away from fear is one thing, but how do we actively develop love and ultimately integrate it with our leadership?In my book, “Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance”, I outline eight steps to develop love of self, love of source, and love of others:1. Develop and harness your intuition.2. Honor yourself with truth.3. Recognize your ability to make choices.4. Listen to and honor your body.5. Nurture your soul.6. Practice meditation or prayer regularly to connect with your source.7. Just the like term, Namaste, honor the spirit of others.8. Practice forgiveness.When we align ourselves with love and spirit, abundance and joy flow into our lives.I would love to hear from you. What other steps would you add to develop love in your leadership and your life?
While working on a book that I am co-authoring with my friend and colleague, Jone Bosworth, JD, "Very Bad Bosses: Never Get in a Pissing Match with a Skunk (And Other Sage Advice for Surviving Workplace Villians)", we realized that stopping and soothing our souls a bit first, helps when the sting of a very bad boss behavior is about to strike.So, here are our top 10 favorite soothe-your-soul quotes.10. "Never get in a pissing match with a skunk (because you'll both end up stinking)." -Anonymous9. "If you want to forget all your troubles, wear two tight shoes." -The Houghton Line8. "Always write angry letters to your enemies and never send them." -James Fallows7. "If you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot." -Korean Proverb6. "The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief." -William Shakespeare5. "To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee." -William H. Walton4. "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die" -Malachy McCourt3. "The worst-tempered people I've ever met were people who knew they were wrong." - Wilson Mizner2. "In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer." -Mark Twain1. "Turn your wounds into wisdom." -Oprah WinfreyFeel a little immediate relief by moving into a philosophical space with these quotes? That's how Jone and I want you to feel as you share and let go of your very bad boss story! We are still collecting stories for our book, and we want to hear from you to include your story in the book! And, you can use a pseudonym too, just in case you are still working for the boss.It is super easy for you to submit your story, just go to www.very-bad-bosses.comIt is that simple, and you can help others who may still be trying to find the laughter in their situation. Now, I would love to hear from you! What was the greatest lesson you learned from your very bad boss? And, don't forget to share your very bad boss story at www.very-bad-bosses.com
It is important for us to reflect on our stories.
You know these stories; they are well-crafted and visited repeatedly for years and sometimes decades. These are the stories we tell ourselves, building beliefs and behaviors based on these tales. As Plato reminded us, perception is reality. Our thoughts create our perceptions and our perceptions influence our emotional, psychological, and physical responses.
I read Marianne Williamson’s book, “The Law of Divine Compensation” and was struck by her discussion about how negative thoughts deactivate the divine law, which falls into three major categories:
1. Negative sense of self2. Anger3. Guilt
Wow – the big three!
This got me thinking how the big three derail other aspects of our life, including how we love others and how we lead others. As we reflect on a negative sense of self, anger, and guilt, let’s explore the following questions:
- Why do we hold onto these beliefs? Is it habit, unawareness, or true to you?
- Is it really true?
- Who would you be if it weren't true?
- With what loving thought can you replace the negative thought?
Our stories are sometimes on auto pilot. We need to just flip off the auto pilot switch and create a new story! Close the chapter on the old one and start writing a new story.
Think about this:When is the best time to plant an oak tree?Twenty years ago.When is the second best time to plant the tree?Now.
When we step into awareness about our stories and thoughts, we come to realize that we can change those thoughts, and ultimately change our lives.
I would love to hear from you. What’s stopping you?With love,Maria
I have to share this quote with you by Robert Muller, “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”
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/understanding, and from where it actually originated.
How did we even get here—the need or desire to forgive?
We look to practice forgiveness when we are angry, wronged, or hurt. 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. 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.
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. Judgment leads to blame, and blame leads to resentment.
Resentment is really 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 or content.
Forgiveness is a choice. We take responsibility for our peace of mind and happiness when we choose to forgive. And forgiveness starts with ourselves. 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:
Acknowledge the truth.
Take responsibility for what you have done.
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.
Open your heart to yourself and compassionately listen to the fears and calls for help and acknowledgment deep within.
Heal emotional wounds by heeding the calls in healthy, loving, and responsible ways.
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.
I would love to hear from you. What is the first step you are willing to commit to today to move you into self-forgiveness?
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 don’t know how to replace them.
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 and the ego is not going to like it!
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, that you will manifest.
I would love to hear from you. How do you recognize when you are being sold to? How do you demonstrate service instead of sales?
Many of us learned how to lead with fear…and it works…sort of. Leading with fear comes with a price.Using fear as a motivation technique is sometimes effective, but the key to understanding the use of fear is that this method is not sustainable. When leaders and managers leverage fear in the workplace, it is important for them to understand that while it may move people immediately in the direction in which they want to go, it also immediately erodes trust.Know that when employees are motivated and moved by fear, employee movement continues both literally and figuratively. Employees start planning their escape. Literally, they escape by leaving the organization. Oops, there goes another one. We know the expense of employee turnover.Even more significant are the employees who escape figuratively…read “employee disengagement”. Employees disengage when they distrust. When people check out, they are not motivated, productive, or loyal. Think of the cost to your organization with a team who has checked out.Fear is not sustaining; in fact, fear is debilitating to an organization.We need to recognize that fear is the go-to method for many leaders and managers -- we learned it, cultivated it, and thought we perfected it. I challenge you to reconsider this technique due to the long-term destructive ramifications. Get your creative juices flowing for more innovative, value-centered, and love-based approaches to influence others.What are more effective techniques you use to motivate your team? Please share your comments below.As always, I love hearing your ideas.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.
I got on the scale this morning and I am 26 pounds lighter – woohoo! With this experience, I’ve had a profound awakening.For several years I tried many diets and different ways to increase my will power. I did so much self-talk about the virtues of denying myself all of the foods that were “bad” for me.And you can probably guess the outcome…no success with weight loss.The Aha! moment came when I unexpectedly saw myself in an elevator mirror and did not recognize the woman looking back. Now I’ve looked in the mirror many times and was not crazy about what I saw, but this time was different. This time, it was not disgust; it was unconditional, overwhelming love.That was the shift. I loved myself more than the fear of lack or the fear of denying myself the foods I thought I wanted.I desired self-love more than I wanted a cupcake.I desired health more than I wanted potato chips.I desired wellness more than I wanted chocolate.The desire for what I wanted weighed more than the fear of denial.Whenever we can shift the scale (no pun intended) for love instead of fear…miracles happen.What do you fear more than you love? Shift your focus and watch for miracles.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.