“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” ~ Rosa Parks
When you look at a powerful, inspiring leader, you’re seeing the results of her years of growing into her leadership skills. Behind her polished appearance are tears, disappointments, frustrations, and hard-learned lessons. She has experienced hiccups in her plans, inadequacies in her preparation, and unseen circumstances that sidelined her attempts. But she kept striving to improve until she achieved excellence. You can do the same by applying the principles of thoughtful leadership.
How the principles of thoughtful leadership can make a good leader into an excellent leader…
Practice. Every skill is learned through practice; the same is true of leadership. Even if you don’t think you have a natural ability to lead, you can practice, practice, practice, until it becomes a part of you.
A major area to work on is your ability to make decisions quickly and wisely. You may be good at quick decisions, but are they always good ones? If not, don’t give up. Lean into decision-making. View each decision as a practice run and pay attention to the consequences. Ask yourself why it turned out well or why it didn’t. That’s how you learn, if you don’t take yourself too seriously.
There’s a lot of wisdom in the advice to “fail early and fail often,” even though I don’t think of anything as failure. Life is a journey full of lessons, because often you’re making decisions on incomplete or contradictory information. It’s what you learn that matters. Along the way, it’s also important to practice self-forgiveness, gratitude, and other somatic practices.
Lead from Different Directions. If you think a leader can only be the person out in front, like a controlling CEO or president, then it’s time to rethink your definition of leadership.
Thoughtful leaders don’t need to control everything. They recognize the talent of the team, and they encourage the most qualified person to run with a project or initiative. They step out of the way and guide from the background, when needed.
I love how the National Outdoor Leadership School describes the four approaches to leadership. As a designated leader, you take responsibility for the group and keep it on track. But you often ask your active followers to participate in group decisions, as their input gives you a clearer picture. Everyone on the team helps each other as peer leaders. And everyone carries their own weight because they exercise self-leadership and remain organized and motivated.
Be a Team Player. It’s more important to build solid relationships within your organization than “getting the job done,” if that means trampling on your team cohesion. It’s not always easy to effectively resolve conflict among a diverse group of people, but if you show you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside them, or you’re willing to fill in for them when necessary, that goes a long way to building a “collaborative, family feeling.” This approach fosters a spirit of understanding, communication, motivation, and even a sense of humor.
Stay Calm. Maintaining flexibility under adversity is another vital leadership skill. Embodied leaders don’t become leaders despite those adversities. They’ve become leaders because they used those adversities to their advantage.
There may be times you may want to throw in the towel, but a wiser course is to weigh your options. Ask yourself, “if I do that, what good will it do? …what harm will it do?”
Trying to control everything leads to burnout faster than anything. Learn to let go of things you can’t control, and become comfortable with changes. Maintain your composure and calm, as you switch on your problem-solving skills.
Develop the presence of mind to look past the immediate disaster/challenge/distraction and focus on the most important task at hand. You can’t afford to panic or become paralyzed with fear. It’s only by embracing discomfort that you can purposefully expand your comfort zone.
Disconnect to Reconnect. Technology is sapping our ability to analyze, strategize and dream big. We must remain connected to nature. You’ll find that regularly immersing yourself in nature removes distractions so you can make decisions for the right reasons.
Are you ready to claim the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) It’s going to be a wonderful, life-changing experience.
Do you think that striving for excellence takes a lot of work, effort and struggle? Would you be shocked if I told you excellence should be easy? Yes, it takes a lot of work, but not in the way you’re probably thinking. The work comes, not from checking off major hurdles on your to-do list, but rather from finding your zone of genius, which, in turn, makes it easy and fun.
I know this goes against the current trend. Many life coaches advise their clients: “If you want to make it big, you’ve got to hustle!” Or, “Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.” Or, “Fight for every advantage you can get.”
When people buy into this philosophy, they push, fight and claw their way to some measure of success. In the process, they almost kill themselves. They don’t make time for exercise. They eat on the run, if at all. They survive on caffeine and adrenaline. And then they’re too keyed up to sleep at night. Day after day, they follow this same routine. Soon exhaustion, overwhelm, burnout and illness catch up with them.
If hustling and pushing yourself relentlessly were the best way to achieve excellence, these damaging results wouldn’t happen.
In reality, excellence results from giving yourself permission to be yourself and finding your zone of genius. Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level,” brought the phrase “zone of genius” to our attention. It describes the one thing you do better than almost anyone; the thing you do joyfully and effortlessly, which creates value for yourself and others.
Before you can find your zone of genius, however, it’s necessary to identify the fear that keeps it hidden from your own sight.
For example, do you find yourself saying, “I could do great things and be someone special if it wasn’t for…my job, my marriage, my race, my education, my social status, my looks…” and the list goes on and on. Beware, that way of thinking blinds you to your own genius.
In order to find your zone of genius, here are some other self-defeating thoughts to identify and explore. Keep in mind your goal is greater self-awareness, so it behooves you to mindfully adopt a more self-compassionate way of living.
- Your desire for security makes you afraid to change the status quo.
- Your attachment to money and prestige keeps you in a job you hate.
- Your fear of vulnerability makes your relationships shallow and unfulfilling.
- Your belief that success only comes from hard work relentlessly drives you to dismiss self-care.
- Your feelings of unworthiness prevent you from claiming your uniqueness.
- Your addiction to drama sidetracks and distracts you.
- Your misplaced loyalty makes you choose smallness rather than disappoint a colleague, boss or loved one.
It’s all too easy to be comfortable with living a miserable life. Most people rather live with what they know, rather than risk the unknown.
This is where the “hard work” begins because it calls for radically changing your approach. Instead of always pushing, pushing, pushing, it’s okay to pursue what comes easily. You don’t have to suffer to be great. It’s okay to enjoy life.
Rather than beating your head against closed doors by setting lofty goals and doing it by yourself, look for open doors of opportunity. Ask yourself what you really want in this moment of time. Give yourself permission to try things and do them imperfectly. It is hard to let go of ingrained habits and self-defeating thoughts, but this kind of “hard work” brings you health, vitality, a sense of fulfillment and balance.
One way to know you’re working in your genius is when you’re so absorbed in your project that time flies. You feel a deep sense of satisfaction and can’t wait to start again tomorrow. If you’re not quite in that zone yet, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you identify your zone of genius.
“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” ~ James Allen
We don’t often think about this, but if you make a choice, you also make a sacrifice consciously or unconsciously.
For example: You give up work time to read a book. You invest in your education rather than taking a vacation. You may even purchase shoes instead of food. In each case you sacrifice something to get something you value more.
Each sacrifice, each choice brings you closer to, or takes you further away from, the amazing lifestyle you desire. To get it, you must pay the price of success.
What will excellence cost you? Focused action, hard choices and consistent follow through. You have to become what some might view as “obsessed’ with getting results.
How do you pay the price of success? It could be money. It could be physical effort. It might even be your health if you’re not careful. But your greatest asset is your TIME. Once you spend a second of it, you can’t get it back. It’s in limited supply, so spend it wisely.
However, success isn’t solely guaranteed by how much time you put into an endeavor. Perhaps you’ve heard that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” Malcolm Gladwell posed this rule in his book, “Outliers.” It gives you the impression that you have to put in a vast amount of time and deliberate practice to achieve excellence. (Deliberate practice means pushing your skill set as much as you can.)
But I don’t think that time and deliberate practice are the entire equation for success.
Excellence doesn’t just take time and practice. Your heart, soul and mind must be involved as you find and fulfill your purpose in life. If you aren’t good at an endeavor or you’re doing it just because someone else expects it, no amount of time and practice is going to make you great at it.
When you’re firmly convinced of your purpose, you’re more than willing to make sacrifices to fulfill it, because it fills you with joy and brings out the best in you. Some women have achieved excellence by being wonderful wives and mothers. While the world in general doesn’t give them the recognition they deserve, I think they’re awesome! Others achieve excellence in their chosen profession. That’s awesome too!
Personally, I’ve found my purpose by being the best daughter, wife, friend and coach that I can be. I love assisting women to achieve their purpose whatever that might be. Will this be enough for my lifetime? Time will tell. We all have the freedom to rewrite our lives any time we want.
One thing I do know is that you don’t get anywhere without some level of sacrifice.
On the other hand, be careful about the price you’re willing to pay for success. You don’t ever want to trade your reputation, ethics or integrity for a quick gain. It’s not worth it.
Giving up on your dreams is not a good option either. It exacts a high price in regrets and unhappiness. Don’t quit because you can’t figure out what to do next. If you want it enough, you’ll find a way.
Granted, it is human nature to default to what we’re used to, what’s in our comfort zone. However, growth depends on discomfort. Creativity isn’t sparked in a circle of comfort. It’s sparked by challenge, by needing to think outside the box, by deadlines, by stress, by what’s called, “Optimal Anxiety”. To achieve greatness, you have to push yourself.
Yes, we live in a world that loves instant gratification. But there are no shortcuts to excellence. It’s so satisfying to take your time and do it right. It will cost you, but it’s worth it.
Would you like to ensure you’re spending your time and energy on the right thing for you, right now? Then please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It pays to explore new ideas and paths that can help you get closer to what makes YOU feel like a success.
“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Isn’t it true that the world is full of people with good intentions? Yet the ones who accept a task and execute it promptly are rare. In that way, they become indispensable at work or in any relationship because you can count on them to follow through and not let you down.
Is that the kind of person you’d like to be known as?
First, it’s important to determine what’s getting in the way of executing your goals. Do you procrastinate or get distracted? Too often our minds are so full of “stuff” we lose focus. Or maybe you don’t know something, so you get stuck on the “how” and stall out.
Perhaps your past is getting in the way? Maybe you’ve been discouraged by a lifetime of others putting you down. On the other hand, overindulgent parents might have spoiled you, making you think the world owes you a favor. Just remember, those behaviors are their choices, not yours.
You have a choice to make: blame others or build a fire in your soul for developing the attitudes and habits that make you indispensable. How?
It all starts with developing the character to view everything you do as worthwhile. No matter what the job is, do it cheerfully. Appreciate the opportunity to see your strengths and make note of them.
When you work at excelling at everyday tasks, extraordinary opportunities will come your way. When you use each assignment to hone your natural talents, you can turn them into a discipline that you master. This may well become your “calling” in life, if it brings you great joy and it serves the needs of others.
The secret to becoming indispensable is to take action without hesitating. Practice the following steps until they become a deeply imbedded system in your life:
- Accept the assignment and get started. Don’t wait for all of the answers. As you proceed, you’ll often find better solutions than if you had mapped it all out at the beginning.
- Ask for clarification. Asking a question isn’t a sign of weakness. Work out what you can and then ask the right questions to fill in the blanks.
- Outline a plan of action. Keep in mind your ultimate objective; strategies for achieving it; breaking it down into manageable bits; making a step-by-step checklist; and measuring your progress.
- Don’t be afraid to expend some resources and ask for help. Worthwhile objectives usually cost money, time, and help from others. If it’s worth doing, do it right.
- Measure your progress. When you get stuck, show what you’ve done so far and ask for feedback. If you’re off course, this will put you back on track. Even if you don’t answer to anyone, review your progress and see if you’re still on course.
- Set reasonable expectations and always exceed them. If you want to be trusted with vital tasks, develop a reputation for getting the job done better, sooner and at a lower cost than expected.
- Accept mistakes as the cost of learning. Perfection is unrealistic. Mistakes are simply information not judgments on your character. Reflect on what they teach you.
- Be proud of your work. Remember your wins. Find the harmony between action and fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear but rather the ability to act despite it.
You will become indispensable when you’ve integrated these action-oriented habits and attitudes into your life. If you’re ready to accelerate your rise to excellence so you become indispensable, respected and trusted, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this journey.
Does starting your own private practice appeal to you? This can be a big transition for therapists, counselors, social workers, life coaches etc. But maybe you’re tired of the 9-5 job or you want more freedom to spend time on what’s really important to you. If so, there are some things that you should consider first so the transition to being an entrepreneur is easier and less stressful.
While it may seem tempting, it’s not wise to hand in your resignation without first having your new business up and running. And it’s not enough to build your business around something that you’re passionate about. Your new business must fit into what supports the kind of life you want for yourself and your family. It’s important to know that you can really make a living at your new business.
Consider the following questions before starting your own private practice:
What kind of life do you really want to live? A day-to-day existence isn’t enough. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the full! Now is the time to mindfully reflect on what it is that you really want and the values you hold dear. What personal goals have you been putting off? What do you want your life to look like 5, 10, 15 years from now? How do you want to renew your purpose in life? What are you going to do when you start to feel stuck?
How will you finance the new business? Starting a business on credit card debt is very stressful for you and your family. Start saving 20-40% out of each paycheck. Within a year, you’ll be in a good financial position to start your own business. During this time, learn to live on a budget and eliminate as much debt as possible. Put yourself into a position where you can live without a paycheck for a year, plus have extra for an emergency fund.
What’s your business plan? What’s your big picture dream for starting your own private practice? This is the time to fill notebooks full of all your ideas. What services or products will you offer? How will you deliver them? What does the sales process look like? How much money do you need to make monthly? Annually? How many sales do you have to make to fulfill that goal? Will you have employees, partners, sponsors, investors, etc? Where will your office be? What will your website look like? Which social media platforms will you find your clients on? How will you keep track of everything? A good online resource for getting started is enloop.com.
Who will buy from you and why will they want to? A business isn’t a business unless you have clients or customers. Start telling everyone that you’re starting your own private practice. Tell your friends, family, and acquaintances. Ask them if they would be interested in becoming a client or if they know of anyone who would be interested.
One of the biggest hurdles is narrowing down to a niche or audience that will really buy from you. If you try to appeal to everyone…you’ll appeal to no one. So don’t be afraid to be very specific about who you want to work with. It’s important to create a very clear marketing message of who you serve and what value you bring to them.
What kind of learning curve are you up against? There’s a lot involved in starting your own private practice. It’s time to assess what skills you have and what you still need to learn. Do you need further training in NLP? Do you need more computer skills? How about business finance and operational skills? What about marketing skills? Learn as much as you can now, because once you start your own business, you’re going to be really busy.
I enjoy helping fellow practitioners who are eager to build their own business, integrating personal excellence, core values and originality. If you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching, contact me and we can discuss your options.
To give you a super solid foundation for starting your own private practice, I also want to invite you to attend Institute for Professional Leadership fall class, Creating Your Dream Practice. As one of the instructors, I can personally guarantee you’ll walk away with a compelling business vision, clarity on your unique business identity, and a better understanding of your relationship with money and marketing. Feel free to contact me and ask any questions you might have.