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The Secret to Overcoming Doubt? Make Developing Leadership Skills Your Daily Practice

“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” ~ Beyoncé

No matter what we’re trying to achieve, there always seem to be an in-between stage that gets us stuck. For example, you hit a plateau when you’re losing weight. Or you have to spend money you don’t have to make money. Or you’re working on developing leadership skills, but you have no one to lead. Or you want to build your coaching business, but you need coaching experience to attract new clients.

That in-between place isn’t comfortable, because it tests your faith in your dream, your belief in yourself, and your commitment to growth. These growing pains are a natural part of life and aren’t to be avoided. Rather embrace them as indicators that you are ready for the next level. Get excited about them. Don’t dread them.

Louise Santiago, Niina Gullsten and I have just completed this year’s Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat. I am feeling grateful, inspired and blessed! It was amazing and awe-inspiring to watch the women attendees courageously face and overcome doubt and indecision, as they worked on developing their leadership skills more fully.

Over the course of our time together, a common theme kept appearing: A person succeeds when developing leadership skills becomes a daily practice. Here are some tips we discussed:

Become more intentional.  Whether it’s in regard to your relationships, business, or personal well-being, the more intentional and thoughtful your decisions become the better outcomes you will experience. Mindfulness is foundational to being intentional, for it builds within you a strong sense of identity and purpose. If you find yourself just drifting through life, take some time to mindfully reflect on where you really want to go and who you want to be.

Expand your circle of influence. Cultivate conversations and relationships with people who have different experiences and backgrounds. This diversifies your view of the world and lets you learn valuable lessons about yourself. It will reveal your strengths (e.g. patience) and your weaknesses (e.g. prejudices).  Your communication skills will be tested, since you’ll be out of your comfort zone and you’ll want to pay closer attention to what’s being said and how it’s being said. But testing your conversation muscles is a win-win, because communication skills are paramount for developing leadership skills.

Step into leadership opportunities, as they come your way. Volunteering in your community is a great way to gain experience. Mentoring young women is a wonderful way to ensure our future is brighter. Even if you only lead one person toward achieving success, you will have accomplished a lot.

Developing leadership skills becomes more organic and intuitive, and less painful, when you look for opportunities in your daily life to practice them. Don’t be afraid to step up. Our recent retreat reminded us that women are amazingly powerful, beautifully humble, and awe inspiring as they support each other and step forward in all aspects of their life! Make a commitment to yourself and join us in 2020 for another great adventure.

Or if you’re ready to get started right now, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to share with you some of the new insights I’ve gained from this fabulous group of women.

New Rules for Leadership You Can Use to Influence Real Change

“To watch people push themselves further than they think they can, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s really human.” ~ Abby Wambach

Leadership has always been based on a hierarchical model — where a few have power and control over the many. But in the 21st Century, the in-your-face boss is no longer the only model for successful leadership. Nor is it the most effective one! We have discovered new rules for leadership that are building a new model — one that employs a more expansive and collaborative approach.

I believe leadership is an innate ability of every person. Even if you doubt you have it, believe me, YOU DO! And the good news is that you can enhance, strengthen and refine it. If you don’t believe me, think about the many ways you already lead others today. For example,

  • You lead your family members to become the best they can be.
  • You lead your friends in ways to make their lives easier and better.
  • You lead your business peers through supportive networks that lets each one use their unique skills so you can achieve a shared vision.

WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power and Change the Game.As a woman, I’ve been on a journey to discover my own unique brand of leadership. I recently stumbled across another great resource for refining my rules for leadership. I found them in a book by Abby Wambach, WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power and Change the Game. I highly recommend you read it. She’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion and is noted for her leadership skills as she helped transform her soccer teammates into one of the most successful, powerful and united Wolfpacks of all time.

I wholeheartedly agree with her 8 new rules for leadership that encourages women to “claim their individual power, unite their Pack, and take their lives, families, careers and world further than they could have imagined.” In the list below, I share her rules for leadership along with links to articles you can read on my website that share similar lessons. (If you order the book, let me know what you think!)

1. “Create your own path”. This is something I’m passionate about. Only you can live your life and bring your gift to the world.

    1. Celebrate the Unique Person You Are and Stop Being a People Pleaser
    2. Finding Your True Self – The Key to Embodied Leadership
    3. Find Your Zone of Genius and You won’t Have to Hustle So Hard
    4. Embodied Leadership – A Lifelong Practice that Leads to Excellence and Mastery.

2. “Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve”. This is so true! Gratitude is an essential part of your mindfulness practice. And you can’t wait for success to come to you.

    1. How to Fully Utilize the Power of Gratitude in Your Life
    2. 3 Tips to Get You Headed in the Direction You Want to Go.
    3. Feed Your Ambition & Catapult Your Leadership Career to Success.

3. “Lead now —from wherever you are”. No longer do we lead from out in front. We can guide from the sidelines as we encourage the most qualified person to run with a project or initiative.

    1. 5 Principles of Thoughtful Leadership Makes Good Leaders Even Better
    2. 7 Ways to Model Purpose Driven Leadership in All Aspects of Life

4. “Failure means you’re finally IN the game. Personally, I don’t think in terms of failure. Instead I consider each setback as an opportunity to learn something new about myself.

    1. Overcoming Fear of Failure – One of the Most Valuable Lessons Learned in Life
    2. Failure Leads to Success When You Know this Olympic Secret

5. “Be FOR each other”. This is where women really shine as leaders. We know how to collaborate!

    1. Women – Use This Secret Advantage to Secure Leadership Positions
    2. How to Develop True Emotional Intimacy between Friends

6. “Believe in yourself. Demand the ball”. So many times we get in our own way and keep ourselves small by feeling inadequate or unprepared.

    1. You Don’t Have to Be a Natural Born Leader to Make Leadership Your Career
    2. How to Deal with Fear – Ten Ways to Cultivate a Fearless Mindset
    3. When Opportunity Knocks – are You Ready to Step Through the Door?

7. “Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders”. I do believe it’s our responsibility to shape a better world by nurturing and empowering others.

    1. 25 Ways Highly Successful People Make Us Feel Better About Ourselves
    2. 7 Strong Leadership Scenarios: How Do You Measure Up?
    3. Develop Leadership Skills in Women Who Want to Make a Difference

8. “You’re not alone. You’ve got your Pack”. I love how we can create a synergy and accomplish so much more when we work together.

    1. Strong Convictions – The Secret to Becoming an Influential Leader in Your Community

Even though leadership is an innate part of us, it can lay dormant, buried, disguised, or unappreciated. Are you ready to step up and apply these rules for leadership in new and exciting ways? As Abby Wambach says, “You never know if you can actually do something against all odds until you actually do it.”  If you’d like to team up with me, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Together we can accomplish great things!

7 Ways to Model Purpose Driven Leadership in All Aspects of Life

Purpose driven leadership reaches all aspects of life – marriage, family, friends, business, communities, and your own health and fitness, as you serve others.“Why did you get out of bed this morning, and why should anyone care?” ~ Simon Sinek

Who were you born to be? What puts fire in your belly? If you’re not certain, it’s time to clarify your purpose in life. As a child, you might have dreamed of being a singer or an astronaut. Purpose driven leadership wasn’t even on your radar. Teachers or parents might have even urged you, “You need to figure out what you’re going to do with your life!”

But before you can “do” anything meaningful, it’s important to learn who you really are, at the core of your being. When you connect who you are with what you do, you’ll be happy, fulfilled, and ultra productive, because you’ll have discovered your purpose. At that point, it will be easier to model purpose driven leadership. As Leonardo da Vinci wisely advised, “Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.”  

Purpose is the natural flow of your gifts as you serve others. You may at times, ignore or hinder your purpose, but it’s always there, waiting to be expressed. Fully formed purpose driven leadership reaches all aspects of life – marriage, family, friends, business, teams, communities, and your own health and fitness. It’s being committed to use your talents, skills and passions for the greatest benefit. It releases positive energy and frees you and others to explore a world of possibilities. One thing to be mindful of: if you or others feel drained or limited by your leadership, what you may be expressing is obsession, rather than purpose.  

Here are seven ways you can model purpose-driven leadership in your life:

  1. Avoid distractions. As a multi-faceted human, you may be pulled in many different directions because of the diversity of your interests. It’s imperative to pause and reflect whether there is congruency with your core purpose. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with narrowing your focus and truly mastering one of your many talents. In fact, you’ll accomplish much more in the long run. 
  1. Align actions with purpose. It’s easy to be swayed by the opinion of others or the current trend. Personal development programs are helpful guides, if they allow for your unique individuality. It is a disservice to yourself and others, if you force yourself to be like everyone else. Yes, there are cultural and family norms to consider; however do so with the goal of discovering how the real you can support something bigger.
  1. Be flexible. Be mindful that your core purpose emerges over time. At different stages of your life, your purpose will evolve and deepen. Being wedded to an outcome will hinder your ability to course correct when necessary. If you sense there’s a deeper meaning lurking, mindfully slow down and listen.
  1. Connect with others on your core level. We all need to work with others to accomplish more than we can alone. Seek out those who have a similar purpose. Work at formulating a group purpose that connects with your individual purpose. People will respond to you as they see that you genuinely care and want to make a difference. You will inspire trust and confidence, as you lead others mindfully and thoughtfully. A tremendous synergy will be unleashed.
  1. Focus on service. The degree to which you live with purpose is in direct proportion to how much you serve others. Concentrate on providing value for others and you’ll feel more fulfilled.
  1. Strive for congruency. Are you purposeful in business but not at home, or vice versa? Being incongruent like this will drastically reduce your effectiveness. Strive to align all of your life with your higher purpose.
  1. Experience. Learn. Learn. Learn. When something happens that you don’t expect or welcome, focus on what you can learn from it. When you are living life on purpose, every life experience becomes your teacher and helps you discover additional meaning.

After experiencing one of the most horrendous events in human history, Viktor Frankl said, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”  When we lack purpose, we become consumed with our immediate circumstances, which can overshadow our reason for living. Every time you make an excuse, place blame or get distracted, you make room for apathy and despair.

Purpose is an endless journey of exploration. We invite you to join us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. We’ll help you clearly define your purpose driven leadership path.

Embodied Intelligence Isn’t Just for Robots

Scientists know it’s important to teach Embodied Intelligence to robots; yet, ironically, we are neglecting to train HUMANS in these very important life skills!“A relaxed aware body-mind is the conductor of creativity” – Mark Walsh

Did you know that scientists are trying to teach Embodied Intelligence to robots, Artificial Intelligence [AI] of the future? One project “aims to build a theoretical framework for embodied artificial intelligence that treats the brain, body, and environment as inseparable cognitive elements. This theory will guide the creation of artificial agents that adjust their neural networks (brains) to feedback from their bodies and surroundings.”

These scientists know that embodied intelligence is essential for being a positive force in today’s society; yet, it’s ironic that today’s educators are neglecting to train HUMANS in these very important life skills! But I see this as an opportunity for you to rise to the top of your profession, by honing your embodied intelligence. This will put you leaps and bounds ahead of the pack, so to speak.

How can embodied intelligence help you to succeed in life and business?

How often do you experience the disconnection between knowing what your best behavior is and not being able to make yourself act in harmony with it? It can be frustrating and demoralizing! You want to go exercise, but you roll over and go back to sleep. You want to eat more healthfully, but you reach for the bag of chips. You want to speak with confidence, but you slump and start mumbling. The key to removing this inner conflict and gaining greater harmony between your thoughts, emotions and actions is to develop a greater understanding of your shape somatically.

What do I mean by “your shape”?

Your shape is the totality of your experience: it’s the story you’ve collected over the years about yourself, about other people, and about the world. Making sense of your story, understanding where you come from, understanding what you believe, and how your emotions are showing up in your body, are all impacting whether or not you can step into the next phase of your life. Without this understanding, this embodied intelligence, you’ll go through life like a character from one of James Joyce’s stories – “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.”

What we learned in our first five to seven years of life makes certain behaviors more habitual than others. That’s when you formed your unique stress response. Maybe you learned that drawing inwardly kept you safe. Or you learned to get angry and scream to be heard. Or you learned to please others, so you didn’t face confrontation. These responses to triggers follow you throughout your life, unless you mindfully retrain your mind and body to handle them differently. Knowing isn’t enough. Real change comes when you reprogram your body/mind connection with new behaviors and become the best version of yourself.

Your new shape – your positive mindset, the stories you’re telling yourself, your demeanor, the way you hold yourself – will help you make more compassionate and wiser choices.

When you tap into your body’s wisdom, you “turn on” your emotional intelligence and find your true self. You can, therefore, create faster and more sustainable shifts in your behavior. Understanding how to heal the mind/body connection – the embodied – somatic – whole person is powerful! The first step toward greater emotional intelligence is to daily practice mindfulness, so you’re fully present in the moment and recognize how your emotions and thoughts are affecting your body – your posture – your energy.

After studying embodied leadership at the Strozzi Institute and practicing the Feldenkrais Method®, I understand better how to teach you to connect with and learn from your body to grow and enhance your leadership presence and skills.

When you change your body shape, you can change a deep-seated behavior, which significantly improves your leadership outcomes. Act like a winner, and you’ll be a winner. Act like a leader, and you’ll be a leader.

Since most of us have been taught to spend time in our heads, accessing the vast embodied intelligence in the entire nervous system has become a dormant skill. But you can revive it! If you’d like to learn more about shifting away from a reactionary response to a more intentional state, plan on joining us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. We’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life, elevate their presence, and make a difference in the world.

7 Strong Leadership Scenarios: How Do You Measure Up?

If you aspire to a strong leadership presence, allow challenges such as these 7 scenarios, to mold you into a better version of yourself as a person and leader.What goes on behind the scenes in the lives of great leaders? I look at the strong leadership presence of Tony Robbins, Lewis Howes, Brendon Burchard or Marie Forleo. They make it look so easy. Were they always strong people? Or did they learn to become strong people? I’d love to meet and ask them how they acquired their strong leadership skills, wouldn’t you?

We do know that much hard internal and external work goes on behind the scenes. All leaders continually work on developing mental strength. To give you a peek into the leadership world, here are seven “what if” scenarios. Think about how you would respond and why. This will reveal areas you may want to work on.

  1. Sentimentality and pragmatism. What if your “good friend” causes trouble in the company, because he can’t perform his job properly?

How will you react? Will you be patient, because there are mitigating circumstances? Will you assign him other tasks within his capabilities? Will you dismiss him?

How does someone with strong leadership skills respond? As a leader, you care deeply about your colleagues. You don’t have to be tough and unfeeling. But you do need strength to identify and manage personal feelings and issues that cloud your ability to see what’s best for the company.

  1. Earned trust. What if an employee is constantly pushing your boundaries?

How would you respond? Do you see her intent is disruptive, or is it creative? Does it become a personal challenge to your authority? Or do you see how she’s trying to make your company better?

What does someone with strong leadership skills do? You don’t have to be perfect as a leader. But you do need consistency and strength to clearly identify your boundaries and communicate these to your team. Consistent emotional states and dependable actions earn trust and make people feel secure.

  1. Kind yet firm. What if someone makes the same mistake over and over again?

What do you do? Is it kind to let it slide? Or do you take your frustration out by lashing him with harsh words and actions?

How does someone with strong leadership skills react? Leaders engender loyalty by personally connecting with their team to bring the best out of each one. They foster a harmonious company culture, not by being a “friend,” but by being someone who “gets” them and helps them excel at their jobs.

  1. Congruent actions and words. What if you continually promise more than you can deliver?

How would you respond? Do you shrug it off, making excuses? Or do you accept responsibility and make a course correct?

What does someone with strong leadership skills do? Once confidence is shaken, a strong leader knows it’s important to “knuckle down” and deliver on all future promises to regain their trust. She gets tough with herself so she fulfills her commitments and inspires her team.

  1. Initiate change. What if you’re brought in to lead a well-established organization and you want to shake things up?

What would you do?  Do you hit them between the eyes with your new way of doing things? Or do you assess the old way – seeing what works and changing what doesn’t?

How does someone with strong leadership skills respond? While change may be necessary, strong leaders evaluate the situation and individual team members to see what needs to be done for the betterment of the organization, considering how and when to do it.

  1. Ego. What if someone younger and prettier than you is on the team and it makes you feel threatened?

How would you respond? Will you use your position to make that person “suffer” until they leave?

How does someone with strong leadership skills respond? Personality is a strong factor for how well an organization runs. Strong leaders work at staying humble, considering the work each person contributes. It’s not about them. They put the needs of the team before their own.

  1. Control. What if someone you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in mentoring decides to leave?

How would you respond? Do you take it as a personal slight? Do you try to manipulate them into remaining, against their best interests?

How does someone with strong leadership skills respond? Strong leaders accept that people have to live their own lives, so they let go, without letting it disrupt their peace or that of the team.

If you aspire to a strong leadership presence, allow challenges, such as these, to mold you into a better version of yourself, as a person and leader. I’d love to help you hone your leadership skills. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

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