08 Mar 2018

Authenticity + Empowerment = Conscious Leadership

A characteristic of effective leadership is the ability to be authentic. It is unambiguously one of the most important aspects that determines a holistic style of leading, whether you are leading yourselves or others. The reason this is so important is that at your very core, you have a genuineness that creates your uniqueness, and it is impacted when it is ignored. You may carry out duties and responsibilities for a long time, and may be successful; however, when that essence of authenticity is put aside for long periods, evidence of discontent begins to show. It may appear as burnout, boredom, frustration, anger, exhaustion, etc. And, it is exhausting not being authentic.

The dictionary defines Authentic as (1) not false or copied; genuine; real;

(2) having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified:

(3) representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”

 

The second component for leadership is empowerment of yourself, which in turn paves the way to empower others.  Empowerment is “(1) to give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means; (2) to enable or permit.”

If you are not being authentic, the questions are:

  1. Why?
  2. At what cost?
  3. What would it take to empower that authenticity?

 

Let’s explore these three questions to identify how you can claim your authentic power and lead.

 

Why?

First, let’s look at the beliefs and behaviors that hold you back. It starts with self-discovery, and it may be uncomfortable to examine. A specific factor in the search for understanding yourself is that it can be uncomfortable, so it is time to get comfortable with discomfort. It is a requirement for growth.

Next, you must be willing to take ownership and responsibility to claim your power. Too often we think of power as one person’s influence over others. To live authentically, we must align our passions with our purpose and the result is that enormous possibilities are available. When we’ve become congruent with who we are and what we want, that is power. One person’s influence—over themselves.

When I decided to write a book on conscious leadership that had been brewing in my head for almost a decade, I had to look deeply at what held me back, which included perfectionism, self-judgment and uncertainty. I realized in the end that the most important thing about the book was to write it. I stepped out of my so-called, perceived comfort zone and completed the dream I had to write a book about my passion for developing consciousness as an important ingredient for life and organizations. And it felt great! I claimed my authentic power. I saw what was holding me back—Fear—and I knew I had to move through the fear to achieve my goal. That’s power.

Much of our decisions to hold ourselves back, not interact with others, not speak up and share creative ideas are because we have an illusion that holding back will keep us safe. There is certainly a time for discernment, for choosing what is worth pushing ourselves for so we can step out of our box to try something new or choose to stay put. The key to seeing the difference between the two is to know what your intent is behind the action. While intent does not necessarily equal impact, the clearer we are with respect to what our intention is—why we want to take the action—the better chance we have of making a difference. We need to recognize and explore real opportunities when they present themselves to see how they fit into the overall goal.

Moreover, staying or playing it safe is not safe because there will ultimately be an incongruence with who you are and what you want to accomplish. This incongruence or misalignment slowly eats away at creativity; you can become complacent and disengaged. This is not safe. This state of mind is corrosive to your team and your own success. Playing “safe” can be denigrating and over time create a dissatisfaction with yourself and others.

One thing to consider when you have the feeling that you need to stay safely in your comfort zone, realize that safety may not be so safe in the long run. Measuring missed opportunities and “what ifs” is a tricky business. Can you achieve that something you long for by staying on the course you have been following? Staying the course when you are discontent is a tangible risk that likes to pose as safety.

 

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”  Helen Keller

 

What is the Cost?

Stress, anxiety and unhappiness build up and take their toll. Hanging on to limiting beliefs is barrier to growth. Yet changing beliefs is more than coming up with a new statement of what to believe, or just trying on a new belief and hoping it sticks. Real change is finding a new belief that is empowering and is in alignment with who you are and your values.

Merriam-Webster defines stress as “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work; something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety.” Clearly, a state of mental tension is a block to stepping into your power. Stress is a topic that gets a lot of attention because it can be physically unhealthy. While there are techniques to help manage stress published frequently, try to approach stress as a wake-up call. Stress can be transformational by building a tremendous amount of awareness of what is going on in our lives and work, and what we can do to change things. Furthermore, conscious leaders understand that stress can impact performance, behavior and mood. Stress affects us personally, and that effect trickles down to the rest of our team.

Whether the issue is personal or one related to business, freeing up anxious energy and limiting beliefs with a new way of being is life-changing and allows us to live in our full potential. Sometimes considering what we think of ourselves or others is the sticky spot, that when moved through can lead to great work and transformation. When we free ourselves of limiting beliefs and misconceptions, we release anxieties and have access to our authentic power.

Stress can be a catalyst for self-discovery. The more you know, the more you grow. This is the firm foundation on which you can develop your leadership and build your success. Especially note when stress is a wake-up call for giving self-care, which is a time to look at what is going on and what you can do to mitigate the stress by making conscious choices.

 

What would it take to empower authenticity?

An important aspect to claim your authenticity is to fully assess what is important and how well you are aligned with your whole self. The following questions and exercises are tools for creating alignment.

 

  1. Write down your values, as many as you feel are important to you. Then narrow the list to the top five things. Where does each value currently show up in your day-to-day life? If there are any that sit in the shadows that you would like to bring more front and center, which one(s)? Why is it not a primary contributor? How can it be made into a primary contributor?

 

  1. On a scale of 1-10, one being lowest and ten being the highest, how integrated are your mind, body and spirit? Now, spirit can mean various things to different people. It is not necessarily religious, as it can be intuition, wisdom, higher self, divine—however you define it for you. There will be times when we utilize one aspect of mind, body, spirit more than another, and at the same time, the other two are still a part of who we are. What does the integration of these three aspects of yourself look or feel like for you? Begin to notice how they interrelate in your day-to-day activities. Ignoring one or more parts can ultimately lead to imbalance. The Aristotle quote, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” can be a guiding statement to maintaining a balance of mind, body and spirit.

 

  1. Consider a meditative practice as a regular part of your daily life. Whether it is a walk outside, a calm quiet time set aside, reading something that is empowering and motivating—it does not matter. Just focus on whatever gives you that sense of being calm and connected, free of worry or fear, and fully present. Find ways to make this an important part of your life—just like eating and sleeping and brushing your teeth. After a while, you will be compelled to do it.

 

  1. What gives you joy? What energizes you? How much of that energizing factor do you have in your life and work? How can you have more?

 

  1. If you were to give a TED Talk, what message would you give? Once you have determined your message, assess whether it is a part of how you show up in your work and in your life. Bottom line is, are you living that message?

 

  1. What “stories” have you invested in about yourself? How have they worked for you? Do they align with your values? If not, how would you rewrite your story to be authentically you?

 

Self-discovery and self-awareness are critical for living and leading authentically. Begin to notice the ways in which you hold that unique part of yourself back, the cost to yourself and others when you do, and explore ways to empower yourself, which will in turn empower others.

 

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anaïs Nin

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19 Feb 2018

Core Values Index Assessment

The Core Values Index (CVI™) is the only assessment that uses strategic and tactical values to gain insight into the innate nature of the person.

Discover who you are and why some tasks are motivating and some tasks are less enticing. Begin the empowering journey toward giving your best to all that you do. Take the Core Values Index and contact me if you are ready to dig deeper into how you show up in the world and want to be more successful.

The Core Values Index is the simplest, most accurate tool to improve self- awareness and align job tasks with innate nature. For business leaders, employees or anyone who wants to learn more about their core values and how they affect work and life.

The Core Values Index is the only assessment using only positive strategic values in a simple word-choice format. It is not a personality test and does not require answering any questions. Instead, users simply choose 72 words to reveal their innate nature and core motivational drivers. Core motivational drivers dictate the behaviors and desired work that develop self-esteem, causing people to subconsciously seek work offering an opportunity to make their highest contribution possible.

The 10-minute CVI reveals:

  • The type of activity where you are most comfortable
  • What causes you to conflict with others
  • What values you base a majority of your decisions on
  • Why you make the same mistakes over and over
  • How to improve work and personal relationships
  • How to make your highest and best contribution in work and life

 

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05 Feb 2018
09 Jan 2018

Resilience, Purpose and Passion

Two years ago, on a chilly January day at 12:30 in the afternoon, I was brutally attacked, beaten and robbed – in the alley behind my house. At the time, I did not know or even fathom how I would get beyond the experience and the fear that surrounded me inside and out. But, I kept working on some very important projects and I knew that there was a part of me that was fierce and strong and would be able to get beyond the terrifying feelings. With focus and work, I continued, and the memory began to fade, until I was asked to view photos of potential suspects. It was like being traumatized all over again. And yet, I knew I could conquer this and it would not define who I am or how I am in the world. It was not without work.

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07 Nov 2017

Deconstructing Biases, Building Bridges, Not Barriers

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to do a TEDx talk – to be able to share an “idea worth spreading.” My talk was on Deconstructing Biases, Building Bridges, Not Barriers, and while talking about biases is not new and the acceptance of looking at them is becoming more mainstream, the approach I take asks everyone to take individual responsibility to look deeply and sort through the beliefs that hold others and themselves back.

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10 Oct 2017

Three Tips to Build Self-Confidence and Reach Pure Potential

What does confidence mean to you?  According to Merriam-Webster, Confidence is a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or, of reliance on one’s circumstances; faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way. Many have heard the Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” When you ponder this, it boils down to what we believe about ourselves. Too often, internal messages and biases, as well as outside judgments put a damper on the level of confidence we feel. If, however, we understand that feelings and beliefs are in our power to control, pausing and examining what we are thinking is the first step to choosing an effective approach and response. Let’s look at three automatic defaults that often drive our reactions – Limiting Beliefs, Assumptions, Interpretations.

 

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12 Sep 2017

Three Ways to Check the Message We Broadcast

Every day, whether we realize it or not, we are showing up in life and “sending a message” that is picked up by those around us. That message can fluctuate depending on a various number of factors, such as mood, stress, happiness, environment, media, almost anything that is either an internal circumstance or an external circumstance. The reality is that we believe we do not often have influence over the external circumstances and often believe they are the reason for our internal condition. However, we have much more influence than we realize, and it is our awareness, attitude and intention that can help us avoid being hijacked and being subject to the effect of situations and problems vs. contributing to a solution.

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15 Aug 2017

Inclusion is an Individual Responsibility

The recent news around diversity and inclusion at Google has sparked action and debate. There are dissenting voices, cheering voices, included voices, excluded voices, and even confused voices that say, I don’t know. Ultimately dialogue is needed.

Here is something to consider:  When there is a freedom to have your opinion, the important question is about the lack of respect if you have little regard for the impact of perpetuating negative stereotypes. For well over a year we have seen a broad and sweeping flow of “boxing-in” entire groups of people with the publicized use of negative stereotypes, and it increases divisiveness. If you and your organization truly want to work toward inclusiveness, part of your personal strategy and your organizational strategy needs to have a willingness and openness to discuss, to educate and understand the impact of actions and behaviors.

Do the recent events promote an awareness of the broad spectrum of negative stereotypes that hold women, people of color and LGBTQ persons move inclusion forward? Could there be a silver lining behind the cloud? Possibly. But the real work is in the clearing of the “cloud” through building awareness and recognizing behaviors and practices that are set with good intentions in the mind and eye of the beholder, but do nothing to move toward equity. And, the bottom line is that there is an individual responsibility. An organization can put into place procedures intended to be inclusive. But the individuals in the organization are the ones who are either aligned with the goals and practices or not, and their behaviors are evidence of their beliefs and biases.

Here are three things you can do:

  1. Know your organization’s policies and goals around diversity and inclusion and equity. If there is not one, raise the question to start the conversations. It is short sighted to ignore that diversity and inclusion are important aspects of organizational effectiveness. The lack of focus on realizing the business case and the need for diversity in a global society is like being an ostrich with its head in the sand.
  2. Be aware of your beliefs and whether they align with the organizational goals.
  3. Think, before you speak and recognize the impact of your actions and beliefs. And if you “just don’t get it,” talk with others to gather different perspectives and educate yourself on how individuals and the organization are affected.

Everyone has a choice. You can be part of the problem of the lack of inclusion and thus, contribute to the divisions and negativity, or you can be part of the solution that supports creating an environment where everyone can have the opportunity to succeed.

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10 Jul 2017

Exploring Myths and Realities to Create a More Equitable & Inclusive Environment

There are numerous articles, blogs and discussions about the lack of diversity in leadership roles, with specific emphasis on women, people of color and LGBTQ persons. You would think, with such a strong focus on this lack and a perceived concern that something needs to change, there would be more change. So, why are these discussions continuing to be had at the corporate executive level, within the legal, the tech and non-profits industries, and within education, government and associations everywhere? Maybe there is too much focus on “them” doing something different. Could it be that there is only a cursory acceptance of understanding the impact of bias (conscious and unconscious)? Could more personal commitment and action to take responsibility to be part of the solution make a difference, instead of inaction and remaining part of the problem?

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05 Jun 2017

How to Integrate Self-Care into Your Work and Life so that You are at Your Best

Amazing that Summer is upon us and half of the year has gone by.  For some, it is has flown by and for others, it has crept. Either way, now is a good time to take a reality check on how you are doing with the whole idea of taking care of yourself.

Self-care is a hot topic. Almost all of my coaching clients, including high performing lawyers, executives, entrepreneurs and individuals who want to live more purposefully, address this issue and their ability, or lack thereof, to focus on self-care and its impact on their performance. Frequently, the level of focus is low and the stress is high; even though the understanding of the importance of self-care and the desire to be more effective at taking care of one’s self is well known. Let’s look at ways to incorporate this crucial action into your life.

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