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• HumanitarianismBranding 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 willbe 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 (inother words—ask!).5. Keep it real – Authenticity is a real attractorI would love to hear from you. How would you describe an authentic leader, one who is keepin' it real?
For many, intention is defined as a motivation, a drive, or an ambition to succeed. It can be a demonstration of force, determination, or your immutable will to attain or accomplish something indicates that you have a firm intention.These are examples of our Western mental models of intention. A deeper understanding of the power of intention, described by Carlos Castaneda, suggests, “In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link”. Similar in description to how Wallace Wattles describes this intention in his book, “The Science of Getting Rich”. Wattles wrote: “There is a thinking stuff which all things are made, and which in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe. A thought in this substance, produces the thing that is imaged by the thought. Man can form things in his thought, and by impressing his thought upon formless substance, can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.”This is not a model of perseverance or a mindset where only the fit (determined) survive, but a realization, again, of the connection to each other and Spirit. What this model of intention describes for us, as leaders, is that we are not alone in this organization, community, country, or even universe: but we are together, linked to the energetic force of intention.Why is intention crucial to our leadership? It is the purpose, the why we are here, our belief in something greater than we are. Intention is how we derive meaning. In order to create a vision for our companies, or even our lives, we must first ask, “why?” Tapping into the power of intention requires clearing space in our minds and allowing and trusting our intuitive insights to flow.Here are some strategies we can use to ensure that we are leading with intention:1. Knowing our values helps bring clarity to what is meaningful to us. Identify ten important values. Narrow the list down to your top five and write a sentence or two explaining what the values mean to you and why they are important.2. Look at your calendar and review how you spend your time. Do the activities on your calendar align with your values? If not, why not?3. Create a mind map on a clean sheet of paper, and in the center of the paper write, “My purpose for living this life is…” and circle it. Now draw lines out from this circle with as many ideas that flow into your head and heart and draw circles around each one of those words or statements, always connecting the circles with lines to the center circle of your purpose.4. Using the above information you have developed, write a purpose statement, including the activities involved in achieving that purpose, people necessary to support you, and the value you provide to others.Enjoy the process and see what you discover!I would love to hear from you. What is your purpose statement? Let’s share those and celebrate our clear intentions together.
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
Recently working with a client, we were discussing how we “show up”. We have 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 that conversation. Or our thoughts are fixed on what we are going to say next, not really listening to the words coming out of the other person’s mouth!Our bodies are there – we showed up, physically. But have we really showed up? Are our mind, heart, and spirit present? Are we day dreaming or are we really 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 memo we just read. How different would it be if we really showed up – mind, body, and spirit? How would our showing up affect our communication...our connection and relationships with each other…and in our leadership?How can make sure we really show up? Here are 7 tips to ensure we’re showing up:1. Always start with awareness. Be aware that you are entering a conversation and want to move that conversation into true, authentic connection.2. Be present in the moment. Turn off the distractions, both the literal and the figurative ones.3. Be honest. If now is not the right time to focus on the conversation, reschedule it for a better time.4. If you find yourself wandering, fess up, and start again…the other person will appreciate your honesty. I’ve done this several times and I must admit that at first it takes people aback, but in the end, they do appreciate the honesty and know that they have your full attention now!5. Suspend judgment. Don’t anticipate what you think you may hear.6. Paraphrase what you heard. This will be a good checks-and-balances to ensure you are on the right track.7. Be available and approachable.I would love to hear from you. How do you show up? Does mind, body, and spirit all arrive? If not, what part are you holding back and why?
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?
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
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?
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.
We are in the home stretch of this year, looking to complete the goals we set. Clearing the clutter from our space will support us in the last quarter stretch, taking us from chaos to order.Below are 7 simple steps my friend Dr. Dorothy Bonvillain and I came up with based on Gail Blanke’s book, Throw Out Fifty Things, to guide you as you move from room to room. You can use these same steps in your home, office, car, and any other space in which you spend time.
- Label each of your 5 boxes or bags:
- Move to another room
- Unsure (only one box)
- Remember the rules of engagement:
- If you makes you feel bad, toss it
- If it adds nothing positive, toss it
- If you have to think about it too hard, toss it
- No room for fear, toss it
- Set a timer to one hour before you plan to stop, and stick to it!
- As you go through each space, put items in the appropriate container:
- Donate. Many items that you donate may be a tax write-off. Be sure to list everything you are donating and get a receipt from the charitable organization. Be sure to check with your tax advisor on specifics.
- Trash. Throw away those items that cannot be donated or sold. Come on, you know those items when you see them – the single sock cannot be sold at the Salvation Army and no one is going to buy it for a rag!
- Sell. These items may be sold in a variety of ways, depending on their value. Yard sales, consignment shops, Ebay, and Craig’s List are some of the most popular ways to sell perfectly good items to someone else.
- Move to another room. Don’t stop your momentum to take items to their appropriate room. Put them in this container and use the last hour you committed to this process to relocate those items.
- Unsure. Only ONE box per room for this one! These are items that you are truly torn about what to do. The rules are very specific for this one:
- One box per room.
- Label the box with a date six months from now.
- On that date, go through this same process and see what you can donate, trash, or sell.
- Use gallon zip storage and sandwich bags to hold and organize small items such as jewelry, makeup, screws, rubber bands, paper clips, etc.
- As you go through your spaces, “To Do” items are going to come up for you. Write these items down so you can act on them after your timer is done. Don’t let anything distract your momentum.
- Make the process and event, a celebration. Turn on some music that energizes you, and celebrate the transition from the old to the new, un-cluttered space.
Congratulations on clearing your space and keeping your eye on the prize!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.
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, 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
I often come across leaders who want to be strong leaders but don’t want to be bossy. Many of the leadership models and examples they’ve experienced are aggressive, pushy, and downright nasty…and they don’t want to be like that!Yet, this same group of people doesn’t want to be “weak” or considered pushovers. They don’t see strong leaders being taken advantage of, not listened to, or not respected.Well the great news is that you don’t need to lead at either end to be a great leader.Strong, powerful leaders all have something in common and it doesn’t hurt or require you to do something super-human.Follow these seven practices and you’ll be leading without being bossy in no time:
- Ask questions before you talk. Find out what your team needs.
- Listen, really listen to their responses.
- Get dirty. Don’t ask your team to do anything that you would not do.
- Walk the talk. Maintain your integrity and do what you say you are going to do.
- Take responsibility for yourself and your team. When you honor them, they will honor you.
- Care about your people, individually and collectively. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
- Don’t rely on unspoken expectation. Be very clear what is expected of your team and of you.
- Invite people to participate rather than telling. Rarely, if ever, will your team decline the “invitation”. If you are following these principles, your team will not only accept the invitation, they will probably follow you wherever you go!
What else would you add to this list of being a great leader without being bossy? As always, I love hearing from you.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.
In my corporate career, I saw many afflicted with analysis paralysis. In our “show me” culture, we want to see empirical proof of everything. If you can substantiate something on an Excel spreadsheet, you gain instant credibility.Historically, ever since we entered the Science Age, we’ve not really given anything much significance or credibility unless we could “prove” it.The prove it mantra has served us well in some respects, especially for the skeptics, but this practice has also stifled us. When we only rely on evidence and proof, we may overlook something even more powerful. Our insight and intuition is also proof—only it is intangible. We know something to be real or true, sometimes with an even stronger compelling feeling than the physical evidence that is in front of us. So why do some of us become paralyzed and in the cycle of evidence and analysis?Fear.Fear is what keeps us paralyzed. We want more proof, more analysis, and more evidence to substantiate our decision. If we are afraid to make a decision, then we want even more analysis and proof. This paralysis causes us to miss opportunities in our business, organization, and life.When you feel yourself wanting more and more proof, stop and get serious about some reflection and stillness.It is time to move into action. Do your due diligences, your homework, tap into your insight, and stop long enough to listen to your intuition—then move into action.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.
Sometimes we find that we have too much on our plates. Okay, that can be both literal and figurative. When we have too much on our plates literally, we experiences unhealthy consequences such as weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more.When we have too much on our plates figuratively we become overwhelmed and stressed and we suffer unhealthy consequences such as weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Deja vu!As we move into the fourth quarter of the year, it is a good time for us to look at our plates and see what’s there.The following exercise is one I do with my clients and is very helpful to take a good hard look at what’s on your plate:
- First, section your plate into eight different sections:• Spiritual• Work/career• Personal growth• Family• Financial• Living environment• Community/volunteer• Health/wellness
- Next, identify challenges or issues from the sections of your plate.
- Finally, review each section of the plate and answer the following questions:• What can come off my plate?• Where can I take control and shift some of the responsibilities?• Pay close attention to your feelings as you complete this exercise. Do you feel resistance in an area, relief, or something else?
When you complete the exercise, commit to at least one change on your plate per week between now and the end of the month. Remember, it takes at least 21 days to set a new habit.Good luck and let me know how it goes!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.