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?
As leaders, we often buy into the perception (more likely than not, self-imposed perception) that we must know the answers, be strong, and just like the Energizer bunny, keep going, going, and going.
As leaders, the most important lesson we can model and teach others is that we are human.
As humans and leaders, we don’t always have the answers. This requires us to fess up and be honest. Big deal, we don’t have the answer. The difference between leaders and non-leaders is that we will find the answer…whatever it takes, we will find out.
This may require us to do some research or ask someone else, who may have the answer. We may also need to tap into our intuition for inner wisdom to solve the surface question. And, my favorite resource of all, ask Source, Spirit, or God, who is always available 24/7, always honest, and always right on target.
The perception that leaders are always strong is like saying it is always sunny. Just as nature has beautifully shown us, there are seasons to life. As living, breathing human beings, we too, have seasons. Our strength does not come by us always standing, our strength is our ability to get up again after we fall.
Sometimes, this requires us to ask for help.
Even the Beatles asked for help! Here are 5 strategies to remember when asking for help:
- Try out your ideas first, and then if you still cannot figure it out reach out and ask.
- When you ask, present your thinking so far, including some possible solutions or outcomes.
- Don’t be a martyr or bad mouth yourself when you do ask for help– it’s not very attractive.
- Ask a clarifying question. If someone asks you something and you don’t know the answer right away, simply ask them, “Well what do you think?”
- Remember that asking for help could be a great developmental opportunity for someone else to also grow.
The beautiful benefit of our asking is that the helper receives a gift too, by serving. This is a win-win exchange. It can’t get much better than that!
We cannot keep going, going, going. This is unrealistic and quite frankly, dangerous to our physical body, emotional health, and spiritual growth. We are not super-human, so we must stop pretending to be…it is killing us! We need to learn to ask for re-charge time and then take it! Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.
I would love to hear from you. What is the most challenging thing for you to ask for help?
With love,Dr Maria
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!
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
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
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?
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?
Everything!Why is integrating love so important into our leadership? The answer is simple: because fear is not working and love is a much more powerful force.Here’s a list of reasons to lead with love:• We have organizations full of over-worked, over-stressed employees who find little or no meaning in the work they do for eight to ten hours each day.• We have become paralyzed and/or complacent in the workplace, stifled by fear running rampant in today’s organizations.• Without meaning, we lack purpose and engagement. Love is the conduit to meaning.• Fear can be motivating for a while, but it is not sustaining. Love nurtures, expands, and grows.• Love honors, cares for, values, respects, and trusts others.• Love creates an organizational culture that is conducive to knowledge creation. If we don’t create, we go away.• We reap what we sow, and if we plant seeds of fear, we will reap more fear. If we plant seed of love, we will harvest a love-filled culture. Successful organizations such as Southwest Airlines, SEMCO, Tom’s Shoes, Starbucks, Life is Good, and Zappos are built on love and are reaping the benefits because of it.That’s what love has to do with it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!I would love to hear from you. What benefits do you see by infusing love into the workplace?
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 stay legitimately 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, helping, and leading with those we met. Breaking out of our comfort zones may be different strategies for different people. For some of us we may need to just jump in the water, or we may dive into the deep end, and for some of us, we may just put one toe at a time into the water.The key is to have some movement toward your goal. Success, transformation, and the magic is just outside of our comfort zone. Our movement outside of our comfort zone can start small. One of my clients began this move out of her comfort zone just by taking a different route to work and sitting in a different chair each time she met in the conference room. Here are some strategies to break through your comfort zone barrier:
- Try something new (food, book topic, or music)
- Attend a lecture or presentation on a topic you know nothing about (I did this recently and was fascinated with the learning)
- Identify your habits and look at those habitual behaviors with fresh eyes to uncover the expiration date
- Find a buddy or accountability partner – maybe even take on this project together for support
- Be honest, loving, and patient with yourself as you embark on this journey
OK, here is the challenge:Challenge yourself to commit to one activity outside your comfort zone each day for 21 days and watch your world change, and open before you. I would love to hear from you.Please share your wins of moving outside your comfort zone so we can celebrate!
I recently went to the police station to be fingerprinted as a requirement for a volunteer project I am working on and on the way home, I saw a man driving a small electric car. When I saw the car, I assumed one of his objectives for buying it was to leave less of a carbon imprint. This got me thinking about imprints... What if we were to consciously craft and design the imprint, the “finger print” we desire on the world? How would this change our leadership? Our print, imprints, or impressions are the lasting effects of our attitudes and behaviors. We leave these impressions whether we are aware of this fact or not—the prints are still there.Are we leaving those we “touch” with feelings of encouragement, empowerment, or love? Or, are we impressing people with negativity, helplessness, or fear? At what point in time do we consciously design our leadership impression? Is it when we have 200 people to lead? Is it when we are preparing for retirement? Or, is it now, with our own life, leading ourselves? I love the old proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”Consciously creating our imprints and impressions increases our leadership influence and effectiveness. In fact, I had a trip to New York City with four days of meeting with over 70 media representatives including television producers, writers, agents, and editors. I gave 2-minute pitches to all of these people, which felt like speed-dating! This got me thinking about the impression we make in 2 minutes, and how we could possibly influence someone to take action. This is not a whole lot different than leadership. What sort of impression do we make with our leadership influence in 2 minutes? What kind of impression do we want to make? What is the lasting or lingering thought we wish to impart on someone?Follow these simple IMAGE steps to create a lasting, positive impression:Integrity – Stand in your integrity, be honest about who you are and what you stand for, demonstrating this with your behavior.Mannerisms – Be cognizant of your body language. Are you open or closed? Are you inviting? Are you demonstrating confidence?Appearance – Does your appearance match the impression and image you want to portray? Show up in presence as well, remembering to practice active listening more than speaking.Greeting – Greet others with openness, kindness, warmth, and a smile. People do not always remember what we say to them, but they always remember how they felt when with us.Enjoy the experience. We are more attracted to fun and joy than anything else.I would love to hear from you. What is the impression and image you wish to impart? What immediate step can you take today to reinforce or refine this image?
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?
Ask any successful leader or business owner what one of the most critical factors is for success today, and you will hear: creativity. Now, more than ever, innovation and creativity are sought-after skills in organizations for their leaders. Old models steeped in scientific management and mechanistic thinking no longer serves our needs today. As Einstein and Susan Powter so eloquently remind us, we must and look toward new models and creative ways of leading people and doing business.
For decades, our American culture has devoted most curriculum and teaching models to developing the left-hemisphere of the brain. This is the part of the brain for logic, linear and sequential thought processes. This style of learning and development continued into colleges and universities where the mechanistic model of managing business remained a primary focus. Perhaps a nod to the “soft skills” of leadership appeared in the curriculum, but not until quite recently are we actually teaching leadership skills to future leaders.
Many organizations now focus on teaching the soft skills in their leadership development programs because they realized a profound need for their leaders to have these skill sets. The soft skills to which I am referring are connecting with people, motivating teams, inspiring followers, creative thinking, innovation, quick decision-making and big-picture vision. Each one of these skill sets requires right-brain thinking.
The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, is simultaneous, specializes in context, and synthesizes the big picture. Clearly, the ability to think quickly in today’s fast-paced world requires right hemisphere functions.
I am not advocating tossing aside the value of the left-brain—our entire brain is a gift. I am simply seeking to focus on development of our right-brain functions. At this point, most of us have fairly well developed left hemispheres. After all, we have spent most of our lifetime educated and trained to use our left-brains. What we now need as leaders is to develop and reconnect with the processes of our right brains.
Lateral thinking is perception thinking, looking for creative and innovative ways of viewing the world. This process is not constricted by boundaries and limited beliefs; it challenges us to move into expansiveness, unlimited possibilities, and abundance thinking.
Are you ready for the shift?
I would love to hear from you. What activities do you do that develops your right brain thinking? How do you get your creative on?
Someone asked me, “How can you develop a thick-skin at work?” My initial response was “Develop a strong heart.”
Growing up, I was often teased because of my over-bite. Called many names at school, I came home frequently collapsing into a pile of tears. My mother would tell me to ignore the bully’s hurtful comments and eventually they would stop. I did experience some truth in this, but what was even more impactful were her words, “Maria, you are beautiful, they just don’t see it.” Of course, she was referring to my inner beauty. I knew my outer beauty would catch up once I got braces!
Why is it that as adults we still feel the need to toughen up and not let other people’s words hurt us? Could it be that we forgot our inner beauty?
If so, don’t worry. Reclaiming our inner beauty and strengthening our hearts is easy to do. Developing a strong heart begins with self-love.
Practice these ten steps and in no time, you will not need a thick skin because you will have a strong heart:
- List your strengths. Next to each one, identify how you may leverage your strong points.
- Create an action plan for personal and professional growth.
- Reconnect with your intuition.
- Do something creative every day.
- Spend time in stillness each day.
- Get enough sleep. Six to eight hours are recommended for optimum health.
- Move your body every day. Some days it may only be walking to the mailbox.
- Eat foods that nourish your body in healthy ways.
- List at least five things each day for which you are grateful.
- Find ways to help others see their greatness.
I would love to hear from you. How do you strengthen your heart?
I was just in a discussion today about mentoring. What exactly does this mean and why is it important for leaders to have a mentorship mindset?Mentorship is about sharing wisdom, and wisdom is gained from knowledge and experience. One of my favorite books about mentorship is Mentoring: The Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch. Any good teacher will tell you that we learn so much from our students. The same is true with mentoring, it is an exchange, a dance of sharing wisdom, knowledge, and experiences with the intention of growth – for both parties.Of course, like most concepts we discuss, mentoring begins with self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-love. I love this quote from the book, “It may seem clever to know and accept others; yet accepting oneself is the way to Wisdom. It may feel powerful to overcome others; yet disciplining oneself is true strength. It may be noble to honor others; yet respecting oneself is deep self-esteem.”To practice mentoring, just remember the MENTOR acronym:Motivation – discover the motivation in yourself and your mentee.Exploration – encourage exploration of different perspectives, options, and opportunities.Notice the feelings in both parties and explore their presence.Talk less and listen more. Practice active listening and learn how to dance in the conversation.Open – be open to learn from your mentee and the experience.Respect – Always opt for respect without judgment.Recognizing the important distinction of when to lead, when to walk side-by-side, and when to follow -- and knowing the difference -- is wisdom.What are the elements of mentorship that resonate with you?I would love to hear from you. Who was your most significant mentor and why?With Love,Maria
Early on in my corporate career, colleagues advised me to learn golf, which they claimed as a great way to network, bond with clients, and create deals. I learned the sport, but I did not enjoy the game as much as other people did.At one of our corporate retreats, my boss and colleagues could not wait to get out on the course with some of the top executive staff. I was a bit confused by this because I knew my boss didn’t really like or get along with this group of people. I asked him about it and he said that on the golf course, unless you are a pro, there is no pretense; all are on equal footing and all are hitting poorly. The golf experience allowed them to bring down their guards and share the misery of their poor shots. Like golf, laughter allows us to connect with one another, letting our guards down…without the misery of poor golf shots.Laughter enhances communication by letting our shields down and showing that we are human. The model of professionalism for too long has instructed us to be super-human. We have also learned to check our emotions at the door. We are still human; we still have emotions. To deny that fact is insanity. This is certainly a healthy approach to emotions, which is very different from the professional corporate model we learned.Here are seven strategies for infusing laughter and lightness in your leadership and life:
- Start developing your practice of laughter with consciously smiling today. See how many people you can touch and shift their energy with your smile.
- Begin your meetings on a light note. I have the E*Trade babies’ videos on my favorites list and would start meetings with one or two of those commercials. The more I watch them, the funnier they are to me.
- Watch a funny movie, making note of the elements that tickle your funny bone.
- Listen to a comedy recording on the way to work, setting the tone for the day.
- Laugh for 3–5 minutes every day. Faith it ‘til you make it!
- Commit to do one silly thing a day to cultivate your playfulness.
- Start collecting stories from work that are funny; invite everyone to participate and present these stories at the annual holiday party.
I would love to hear from you. What do you do to infuse laughter into your life?With Love,Maria
We have to give it, share it, mentor it, and grow it.
It is love, knowledge, care, trust, love. As leaders, we have a responsibility to be students of those that went before us, stewards of our gifts and talents, and mentors to those that come after us. Our challenge is to go through our own inward journey, describe the lessons we’ve learned, and then return to teach those lessons to the next generation of leaders. “A journey to find the treasure of your true self, and then home to give your gift to help transform the kingdom – and in the process your own life. The quest itself is replete with dangers and pitfalls, but it offers great rewards: the capacity to be successful in the world, knowledge of the mysteries of the human soul, the opportunity to find your unique gifts in the world, and to live in loving community with other people.”[i] Meaning, abundance, and meaningful existence await.Today, we need a new reality. “To prevail in the face of violence, homelessness, malaise, and the many other spiritual challenges of modern life, we need a vision of leadership rooted in the enduring sense of human wisdom, spirit, and heart.”[ii] We need a new generation of leaders who have the courage and wisdom to love themselves, to love their Source, and to love others. We need you, the authentic leader within. “Our journey is a search, often arduous, for our spiritual center. Once we find our own light within, we can share it with others, offering our own gifts from the heart.”[iii] As we claim our light, let us remember the words of Rumi:You were born with potential.You were born with goodness and trust.You were born with ideals and dreams.You were born with greatness.You were born with wings.You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.You have wings.Learn to use them and fly.Rumi – 13th century poet[iv] New year Blessings to you.With love,Maria
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. - Steve JobsI love this quote because it speaks to so many of us with the depth of truth. As we close out another year, let us honor and acknowledge the road we’ve traveled and with conscious intention, design our next chapter. This is not a dress rehearsal for life; this is it, your life now.Who are you and who do you want to be? Is there a gap between those two people? Who are you meant to be and what keeps you from living your purposeful life? What resistance are you experiencing? Steven Pressfield refers to resistance in the War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles as “the most toxic force on the planet…the root of more unhappiness than poverty and disease.”Do you have a book inside of you, or a painting, or another calling? This is the year to break free from resistance and live the life you are meant to live. Here are five strategies for overcoming resistance:
- Use the 5-Why technique and peel back the layers to uncover your why, your purpose, your calling.
- Use the 5-Why technique to peel back the layers of resistance. Name it, and release it.
- Give yourself permission to dream without resistance.
- When you hear those negative voices inside of you saying, “Who are you to do that?” Simply reply back, “Who am I not to?”
- Visit and sit with your dream every day and soon enough you will be living it without resistance.
I love to hear from you. What is your big dream and what resistance are you experiencing?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.