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Category: Women in Leadership

5 Key Values of a Modern Day Renaissance Woman. Is This YOU?

A modern day Renaissance Woman has many interests and skills.“I want to be a Renaissance Woman. I want to paint, and I want to write, and I want to act, and I just want to do everything.” ~ Emma Watson 

Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Mae Jemison — to name just a few — can all claim the distinction of being a modern day Renaissance Woman. To understand this reference, we have to go back in history to Italy during the 14th century. 

Since I grew up in Italy, I greatly enjoyed studying the Renaissance period. The name “Renaissance” comes from the French word meaning “rebirth.” It was a rebirth from the Middle Ages. It gave birth to discovery and exploration, innovation, and a resurgence of classical learning and spiritual enlightenment. 

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Racism and Social Injustice: I’m White. What Can I Do?

After seeing recent social injustices and racial inequalities, have you wondered: I’m white, what can I do? It’s good to ask; it’s better to do something. “For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Empathy has been defined as putting yourself in the shoes of another, knowing within yourself how they feel and what they need you to do, or say, or not say, in the moment. But how can you have empathy if you’ve never had to walk the path that someone else has had to walk? Because of the recent, terrible acts of racism and social injustice, I’ve been thinking about how yes, I’m white, but what can I do to help. It’s causing me to examine my own biases, as never before.

Ignorance is a blinder to empathy. The trouble with ignorance is that we may not even know when we are “ignoring” something vital that’s right in front of us. Even more criminal is choosing not to know. This contributes to the problem just as much as actively participating in it. This is the time when doing nothing is not acceptable, for doing nothing is actively making the problem worse. 

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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.

Successful Women Avoid These Insidious Mental Energy Zappers

Successful women manage their mental energy like they manage their bank account. We make deposits into our mental energy “piggy bank,” by doing what we can to attract positive energy, including getting plenty of sleep, exercise and healthful food. Then we avoid these common mental energy zappers. By the end of the day, do you often find that you haven’t accomplished what you want, and you feel absolutely exhausted? You see other women living the life you want, and you wonder, “How do successful women do it? What do they know that I don’t?”

A key to their success is that they manage their mental energy like they manage their bank account. We all have to make deposits into our mental energy “piggy bank,” by doing what we can to attract positive energy. This includes getting plenty of restorative sleep, invigorating exercise and healthful food that support physical and emotional health. Then we have to wisely withdraw or spend the limited amount of energy that is in our personal energy “piggy bank”.

Problems arise when you have a constant drain that you’re not aware of. These unnoticed energy zappers can come from internal or external sources. And the only way to stop them is to become aware of them and make a conscious decision to stop them. A practice of mindfulness will help you become more fully aware of how successful women avoid these most common energy zappers:

  1. Successful women don’t give in to worry over things that likely won’t happen. We default to worst-case scenarios, as a means of protecting ourselves. But this can easily get out of hand if you don’t mindfully dismiss them. When you develop the ability to think three stages ahead, you’ll be able to discern which fears are worth responding to, and which are not.
  1. Successful women don’t get caught up in the drama. Women by nature are interested in other people. But successful women understand the danger of getting caught up in making someone’s drama their own. It takes a lot of insight to know the difference between real need and drama. If it’s only drama, it’s important to have pre-set boundaries that prioritize your well-being and keep you from being drawn in.
  1. Success women see distractions for what they are and avoid them. Learn to give your mental energy to only the things that have a significant impact on your life for the long-term. It helps to designate specific time blocks for crucial tasks, and then prioritize the rest. You will have to learn to say ‘NO!” To restore harmony try changing some simple routines in your life. For me, that means making my bed every morning. It sets the tone for the day and helps me develop discipline, which spills over into other areas of my life.
  1. Successful women know the difference between mindfulness and ruminating. Mindfully reflecting on your behaviors and interactions can help you improve. However, replaying certain scenarios or issues in your mind again and again is a waste of your energy, because this only leads to self-recrimination not self-correction.
  1. Successful women don’t compare themselves to others. Concentrate on showing up and doing your best. Get rid of the desire to be perfect. And try not to fixate on being right all the time. Avoid comparing your first attempts with someone’s finished product.
  1. Successful women don’t give weight to the opinions of anyone they wouldn’t switch places with. If you don’t want to be like them, why listen to them? It’s not important that everyone likes and agrees with you.
  1. Successful women understand the importance of self-care. You can’t perform your best if you’re tired, dehydrated, undernourished, or experiencing an imbalance in your life. So there’s no reason to feel guilty about taking care of yourself.
  1. Successful women know that the world needs their brilliance. You don’t have to justify yourself to those who are critical or cynical. You can’t serve everyone, and obviously the cynical are not the ones who need your services. Concentrate on the ones who do.
  1. Successful women train themselves to observe without judgment. While it’s important to overcome patterns of negative thinking, you can go overboard on positive thinking, because you’ll fail to see the realities of life. Learn to observe without wanting life to be more or less than it is.
  1. Successful women focus on what they want to grow. What you put your energy into is what will grow. Be cautious about becoming involved with something, because others expect it of you. Society tells us to care about many things that don’t really matter. Be your own person and don’t let others dictate what your life will be.

Like these successful women, are you ready to create a personalized approach for avoiding energy zappers that are holding you back? If so, I’d love to partner with you. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

Feed Your Ambition & Catapult Your Leadership Career to Success

Feed Your Ambition & Catapult Your Leadership Career to Success“It is a grand thing to rise in the world. The ambition to do so is the very salt of the earth. It is the parent of all enterprise, and the cause of all improvement.” ~ Anthony Trollope 

There is an ingrained, cultural bias to think it’s wrong to feed your ambition, if you’re a woman. Women with ambition have gotten a bad rep…they’re called selfish, b**chy, pushy, and unlikable. For example, there was a very revealing study conducted by the Columbia Business School. Half the class received a case study about a venture capitalist named “Heidi”; and the other half received the same case study with the name changed to “Howard.” While everyone in the class judged the content to be equally important, the ones reading about “Heidi” said she wasn’t likable, whereas the ones reading about “Howard” said he was likable.

It also illustrates the fundamental challenge to women’s leadership…qualities traditionally associated with leaders (assertive and authoritative) are not traditionally viewed as attractive in women. Both men and women are making judgments from this outdated paradigm. It’s time for a more expansive worldview that begins with finding the answer to this question:

How can you maintain joy and balance, as you feed your ambition?

While there’s a place for networking and finding support among “women’s only” groups, this exclusivity can reinforce the gender divide. A more integrative approach allows women who have extraordinary leadership qualities to do extraordinary work within any organization. Women don’t have to try to be like their male counterparts. They simply need to nurture and recognize their leader within and make that their strongpoint.

As I practice this within my own life and career, I’ve formed deeply meaningful leadership connections with men and women. I’ve partnered with Louise Santiago to lead an annual all-woman retreat in Mindo, Ecuador.

Would this have happened if I was pretending to be what I’m not? No. These connections are based on being our authentic selves and bringing our unique talents and gifts to the table. We’re successful because our focus is on being the best leaders we can be, not making an issue over gender.

While the world, in general, is still dismissive of women with ambition, there are shifts in accepting people who feed their ambition in an authentic way. I recommend reading an inspiring article about three very ambitious women, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Tory Burch. Here are three very transformative messages I gleaned from their struggles and successes that will help you feed your ambition in a sustainable way:

1. Feed your ambition, by believing in yourself. If you see an opportunity, don’t hold back. Trust your instincts; learn all you can about your topic; and create a step-by-step plan for making it work. Don’t take no for an answer.

2. Feed your ambition, by deeply knowing you deserve success. While it’s helpful to look for role models, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to them and putting yourself down before you even get started. This is where the issue of deserving it or not rears its ugly head. If you put in the work, you deserve the success. Believe that with all your heart, because it’s true.  

Stop worrying about what others will say. Don’t ask for permission or be apologetic. Erase from your vocabulary hesitant words like, “Is this Okay?” “It’s not as good as I’d hoped.” “I wish it was better, but…” If there’s room for improvement, make it! Don’t apologize for a job half done. Finish it. Polish it. Make it shine! However, beware of stalling out on the fine line between being a perfectionist and being good enough to put it out there into the world. You can adjust and tweak as time goes along.

3. Feed your ambition, by owning your success. We’re taught that it’s not polite to brag, so we hold back from speaking about our successes. Here’s a much healthier mindset to adopt: it’s not bragging; it’s sharing information that can help others to succeed too. Become more mindful and notice what internal shifts and external actions led to moments of success, whether small or large. Then you can turn these steps into a success story that has real value for those who listen to you. This, in turn, grows your own confidence immeasurably.

Are you ready to feed you ambition? Within days, my colleague, Louise Santiago, and I will be traveling to our annual retreat entitled: “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world.” Make plans now to join us next year. Together, we’ll be exploring how to recognize, name, and support the leader within you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

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