EMBRACE, EMBODY & EXPRESS YOUR LEADERSHIP WISDOM
It's possible to be overworked and underutilized.
This isn't readily apparent because our attempts to adjust and keep moving forward limit our focus and deplete our energy even more. And, we end up operating with diminished capacity without realizing it.
I see this all the time with leaders and their teams. It's as if you have waited a little too long to put oxygen masks on yourself and your brain is more stared for oxygen than they know.
Of course, there is a remedy - like 'pure oxygen' - for this creeping deprivation of energy and resilience.
When the best in you is cultivated by your leader and work culture, you bring a keener sense of focus, commitment and endurance to the challenges you face. In productive yet challenging environments you feel safe enough to experiment and make mistakes. Individual and collective/team contributions are supported and recognized. So progress and results end up being more remarkable than you ever imagined possible.
If this thriving environment is not available in the culture where you work, find simple yet consistent ways to give genuine encouragement, recognition and appreciation to yourself and your team. Whenever possible, walk in nature to experience a natural energy reset. Notice how much more resilent you feel. And, notice the positive impact your attitudinal and behavioral shifts in the environment have on individual and team engagement, performance and results.
What Stops You
That indecision which haunts you. The not knowing that worries you. The second guessing that stops you. Ease away from that doubt and fear. Because... it's time now to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Even though you don't know yet what you think you need to know to move forward, pause that thought. Instead, consciously choose to take 1 next step. Allow that next step to reveal the one that follows it. Step-by- step be brave enough to voyage beyond your known frontiers to where unknown yet self-fulfilling transformation patiently awaits your arrival. Courage comes from the heart. So let your heart lead you.
Your Courage Companions
Never underestimate the power of your curiosity and wonder.
They help you regain a natural sense of yourself - calming and centering you within to step into undiscovered territory. Emboldened, you begin to find a way forward, navigating volatile, unpredictable, chaotic and ambiguous challenges.
Practical Travel Wisdom
In this photo I'm standing in front an ancient Venetian fountain in Zadar, Croatia just a ferry ride across the Adriatic from Italy. It was a great trip, but very different from what I expected to experience when I planned it. So I had to make daily adjustments to differences that, although not terrible, differed significantly from my expectations and what I wanted to experience.
Normally, when I travel I keep my expectations much more open-ended. That way I step into the unknown with curiosity and a genuine sense of exploration and discovery. This time I returned to Croatia with more of an agenda. Even though my natural flexibility enabled me to "go with the flow" of changes I experienced, I was very conscious of the extra energy it took to manage my expectations along the way. Next time, when I return to Croatia, I'll make sure my expectations are set in their normal travel mode. That will free me to have an even better time there, and elsewhere.
Travel requires us to manage our expectations so they don't become part of the problem that confronts us. Clearly, we cannot control flight delays or cancellations, the availability of food and comfort at airports, or when hotel accommodations fall short of website descriptions. What we can control, however, is what we expect from these experiences and how we make adjustments when they don't measure up to our expectations.
Travel invites us to explore and discover ways to navigate the unknown and deal effectively with unexpected change. When we adapt, we see ways to become part of the solution we seek.
A Useful 'Playful Practice'
For years, I have relied on a useful practice I call "shifting to neutral." Deciding to remain calm and not react to potentially irritating disruptions helps me navigate with relative ease a mirage of domestic and international security checkpoints, long lines at ticket counters and customs, unexpected flight delays, and unfamiliar airports.
This quiet practice of "shifting to neutral" also could help you regain a sense of inner balance—emotionally and mentally—in business, leadership and life. It starts with recognizing what you can and cannot control. Then, when a person or situation begins to upset you, you immediately disconnect from that irritating or disappointing energy by imagining yourself pulling the cable and plug (through which that negative energy is moving toward you) out of its power source. This drains off the energy—dissipating its effect on you. It frees you to remain calm, centered and clear.
Practice "shifting to neutral" and notice whether it works for you. Like my clients, discover how this simple 'playful practice' helps you to maintain a sense of inner balance even when dealing with difficult people or situations. That way, navigating change becomes less of an energy drain and more manageable.
In these radically challenging times, I think you will agree these skills are invaluable—whether you are traveling or not.
Funny thing about "right timing." It has a way of not showing up when you think it should. Instead you find yourself waiting with impatience and anxiety in "the in-between" - a space between what has already happened and what has not happened yet.
What if this space where nothing seems to be happening is present for you to pause and catch up with yourself? What if it is an invitation to see without being in constant motion where you are now, given the months, weeks and days it has taken you to get there.
"The in-between" is a place where you can pause, breathe in, see, appreciate and savor what you achieved during this leg of your journey in business, leadership and life. Looking back at the distance you have traveled, you lean into and embody more deeply your professional and personal growth. Who you are now has more room to be self-expressed.
Such is the beauty and the power of patiently allowing "the in-between" to reveal its riches to you.
"What you seek is seeking you." -Rumi
In his engaging TED Talk Pico Iyer reminds us that transformation comes when we are not in charge and don't know what comes next. Travel has taught him that the opposite of knowledge isn't ignorance; it's wonder. As a life long traveler, I agree. For the first law of travel is also a law of life.
"You're only as strong as your readiness to surrender."
How You Think Determines How You Lead
Critical thinking is essential to making good decisions. It engages you in learning what works, what doesn't work, and what would work better.
Critical thinking tests your willingness to consider different points of view. It asks you to question assumptions and examine expectations - whether obvious, subtle, unexpressed, understated, or 'undiscovered territory'.
Knowing whether you're a linear, lateral, or circular thinker helps you navigate the uncertainty leaders experience when discerning the best possible decision to make.
YOUR BRAIN IDENTITY
Which of the following characteristics of linear, lateral, or circular thinkers best describes you? Be candid. Select one...
Linear Thinkers (left-brain dominant)
- Prefer a logical, sequential structured (step-by-step) progression
- Focus on details - organizing, planning, and doing things in precise order
- Define meaningful categories, streamlines and systemizes options
Lateral Thinkers (right-brain dominant)
- Prefer to look at the big picture and understand concepts
- Focus on what is being overlooked - challenging assumptions
- See novel cross-connections that form creative alternatives
Circular Thinkers (right & left-brain co-dominant)
- Prefer to scan all information - big picture and details
- Focus on all possibilities - everything being done and thought
- Circle around different possibilities and indirectly land on solutions
WHOLE BRAIN THINKING
Numerous techniques and tools have been designed to improve linear and lateral thinking. Yet there doesn't appear to be much of anything available to assist circular thinkers, even though circular thinking has the potential to access more of the human brain.
The Medicine Wheel in Native American Tradition spontaneously came to mind when a client described her natural, yet frustratingly unproductive, circular thinking process. Karen (name changed for client confidentiality) works with people in different cultures and traditions. She was very receptive to a modern day practice that would connect her way of reaching decisions with a centuries-old approach to whole brain thinking.
A CIRCULAR THINKING DECISION MODEL
In Native American culture the Medicine Wheel consists primarily of 4 directions - East, South, West and North - with a center point. The simplicity of it as a Circular Thinking Decision Model is a function of these 5 basic parameters.
Travel this circle from East to North as many times as it takes for you to address whatever is present in each direction. Let the challenges and opportunities engage you in new ways of seeing and thinking about what is possible. Allow what get revealed in the circle to lead you to the best possible decision.
HOW TO USE THIS TOOL
Take a blank piece of paper. Fill it with a large circle. On it write the 4 directions. Then begin your journey from East to North - jotting down your responses to the decision making points in each direction. The points listed below align with the energy resident in each direction of the Medicine Wheel.
Center (focal point) - Decision You Need to Make
- Clarify the decision you need to make
- Where are you now?
- What needs to change or be better?
- Describe desired future and intended results
- What options exist?
- What opportunities exist - seen and unseen?
- Write down your ideal outcome
- What would need to happen to reach that outcome?
- What crucial factors influence or impact your decision?
East (right side of circle) - Resources Available to Make a Good Decision
- People: Team / Staff / Partners / Collaborators
South (bottom of circle) - What Decision Maker Brings
- Natural gifts
West (left side of circle) - What You Need to Make a Smart Decision
- Question assumptions and expectations
- Ask different types of questions
- See possibilities that emerge
North (top of circle) - What Decision Wants to Be Made
- New insights
- Deeper understanding
- Greater knowing and wisdom
Test this circular thinking decision making tool by moving through all 4 directions of the Medicine Wheel. Notice the clarity you experience. See how this traditional wisdom practice engages you in transformative critical thinking — empowering you to make smarter decisions.
What we believe isn't true?
And, the questions we ask are the wrong questions?
When Casey Gerald's firmly held belief failed him, he searched for something to believe in — in business, in government, in philanthropy. Yet he found only false hopes. In this compelling talk, Gerald shares how he witnessed every facet of the American Dream and learned how essential it is to question our beliefs and have enough courage to embrace uncertainty.
Gerald says, “We hardly realize the human price we pay when we fail to question one brick because we fear it might shake our whole foundation.”
A Year of Saying YES to Everything
Introvert, TV Titan, and lover of work Shonda Rhimes shares the priceless and unexpected value she experienced from playing more and working less.
Are you playing enough in business, leadership and life?
The Power of a Positive "NO!"
Why You Don't Say NO!
Which of these 3 reasons keep you from finding your essential "YES!"?
- You want to say "No!"
- Instead you say "yes" to please or gain approval from the person or people asking.
- You also don't know how to say "No!" to the request.
- You don't return phone calls, respond to emails, or put off getting back to the person or people making the request.
- You're very uncomfortable or afraid to say "No!" because you do not want to upset, hurt or offend the person or people asking.
- You don't know how to say "No!" nicely.
- You really do not want to say "Yes".
- You're angry at yourself for feeling like you can't say "No!"
- You begrudgingly say "yes" but with very negative agreement.
Power Up with a "No!" Sandwich
Start with Your Genuine "Yes!" (top slice of bread)
- Know the value on which you stand, what saying "No" actually allows you to say "Yes!" to—your big, most authentic "YES!"
- Based on what you really value, ask yourself what saying "No!" allows you to say "Yes!" to that keeps you true to yourself.
State Your Positive "No!" (meat in the middle)
- Prepare the person asking to receive your positive "No!"
- Stand firmly in a commitment to your value-rooted, genuine "Yes!" and say your positive "No!" from that place within yourself.
Consider Ending with "Yes!" (bottom slice of bread)
- Start with your decision to say a Positive "No!"
- Then, if appropriate, choose what you are willing to do that is different from what is being requested of you.
- "I am willing to ____________________________________________ (fill in the blank).
Using this "No!" sandwich empowers you to say a Positive "NO!" It also takes you out of the unproductive loop of trying to please people or gain their approval. Instead it's possible for you to please and approve of yourself without being selfish or egotistical.
Of course, if you would like help learning and embodying this critical leadership skill, contact me. I would be happy to assist you in communicating your Positive "NO!" in difficult conversations and challenging situations.
Manage Your Focus
When faced with sudden opportunities, unexpected decisions, or unclear next steps, do you consider how your response could feed the deeper aspects of who you are?
Too often nerviousness, excitement and a real sense of urgency blur our focus and muddy our view of novel yet available options.
Yet there is an easier way to navigate our natural feelings and the conflicting thoughts accompanying them.
Strange as it sounds, stop trying to figure out what to do. Allow curiosity to shift the way you look at what's possible.
Interrupt your thoughts. Instead of paying attention to your questions about "how you should" respond, quiet your mind with genuine appreciation: "Thank you for sharing." This gratitude calms your thoughts by letting your mind know that it has done its job and can relax.
Next, give yourself more mental, physical and emotional space.
You can do this in a lot of effortless ways. Pause for a few moments. Breathe slowly and deeply. Stretch... Stare with soft focus at the sky... Listen to soothing sounds... Walk in nature.
Then, when you feel more spaciousness inside and around you, consider less-explored and surprisingly useful questions.
Question Your Questions
- What assumptions am I making?
- What am I not seeing—obvious or subtle?
- What else might be possible here?
- What deeper needs could be nourished?
Allow your unconscious to explore these questions and give you answers in unexpected ways. Put away your phone and let your mind wander while you
- Wait in line at a store
- Do household chores
- Walk the dog or feed the cat
- Listen to the conversation of strangers.
Notice how answers to your questions begin to take shape in these everyday settings. Let the clarity you receive turn your decisiveness into rewarding results.