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August 2009
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October 2009

Common Ground -- Is it the tie that binds?

I got an email from a woman who said the message from last week’s ezine hit her inbox at just the right time because she was going through some of the same issues I addressed in the article.  I get similar emails each week, which is beyond gratifying because it’s reason I started sending them in the first place!    But, it really got me thinking about common grounds.  Finding common ground with people is the impetus for creating valuable relationships.  Our commonalities are what make us accessible and relatable.    The common ground is the equalizer.  It tethers a connection with a person or people for the moment, the meeting, the present, or perhaps the future.   

 

“The longer we listen to one another - with real attention - the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.” ~ Barbara Deming, Writer/Director  

Tandem bike

Here are some ways to stand on common ground with people and to embrace commonalities as a part of your career growth:

 

 

  • Listen! – it seems a simple notion, but strive to become a student of life, that being of those lives that surround you.  Listen and learn about them then integrate the commonalities into your conversations.
  • Pay attention – “good material” is all around us, all day every day.  Sharing experiences, news stories, and interesting tidbits can open the door to commonalities you might not have been aware of.  Pretty much explains the crazy success of Twitter.
  • Open up – start a meeting or conversation with “common ground breakers.”  Ask open-ended questions that have to do with what you’re dealing with at the time.  It levels the playing field, equalizes the players in the room.  And, as it invites others to participate, commonalities will emerge.
  • Engage – recognize that you’re never alone in the way you feel.  This was the bottom line ‘aha’ for me this week.  So many other people deal with the same frustrating, expansive, weird, funny, and profound issues that you do.  Reveal just a little about one of these to those you want to engage and you’ll be amazed at the common denominators that will connect you.

  Common ground.  It sounds like a great place to be, live and work.  It would also make a great name for a coffee house.  Probably is one!


What Affects Change? What Do You Do About It?

“I think your self emerges more clearly over time.” ~ Meryl Streep

What a difference a year makes.  My head is spinning today, my mind full of reflection, introspection, jubilation, anticipation, wonder and… trepidation!  Now, admittedly right now the trepidation part is minimized by the other more effusive emotions and thoughts.  But, every year on my birthday

Mom and I share the same birthday. Here I'm 3, she's 26.

– yes it’s today – I spend some good time reflecting, etc.  Where have I come?  Have I done what I set out to do in my life in my life and career?  Am I the kind of person I’m meant to be?  Am I on the right path?  What’s the meaning of life?!  …and so on!  But, this year the trepidation is much different than it was a year ago.  The trepidation this year is more about being a year closer to fifty!  And, I would re-phrase it as an “anxious anticipation” about the various choices that now lie in front of me.  But, what a difference a year makes!

On my birthday last year, the trepidation outweighed much else.  The economic situation wreaked havoc on my career as it did on so many others.  I had many sleepless nights about what was coming next and how the people I worked with were also being affected.  And, the majority of it was completely out of my control.  Does this feel familiar to any of you? 

The changes that have taken place in my life in the last year can be pared down to a list of words or phrases that I hope you find helpful as situations emerge in your life and career.  I have taken the work behind each of them to build an incredible and fulfilling career where I help others build incredible and fulfilling careers.  Love that!

  • Freedom – of thought, of mind, of time, to get to what is really important to you. Once I was freed from that out-of-control place, then and only then did “I” emerge as never before.
  • Time – the precious commodity that you can’t get back once it's gone.  Be generous with the time you give yourself.
  • Authenticity – get to the basics and truth of what you love about what you do, or what you want to do.  Then, incorporate that into your daily life.
  • Values – when you align with your core values they drive all you do.  This has been the biggest ‘aha’ for me.
  • Transparency – be bold and communicate truth; show the real you always.  You’ll be trusted and respected for it.
  • Gratitude – what you’re grateful for abounds.  In other words, focus on what you’re thankful for and watch as more of it comes into your life. 
  • Joy – find the meaning for yourself in the prior six ideas and your joy will come.  Discover the joy that makes you look forward to starting each day!

What happened for me through this process is that I became so crystal clear about my brand and created a strategy for developing my platform that I’ve been teaching my clients how to do the same thing.  Pretty cool!

 

So, I find myself really wanting to shout from the mountaintops and share this with as many people as I can (one of my core values is empowering others).  I’ve decided to put on a teleseminar!  If you’re interested, mark your calendar for October 8 at 5pm Pacific for my first ever free teleconference call!  You can actually reserve your spot HERE

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you ready or not, to put this plan into action.” ~ Napoleon Hill


Gratitude and Wisdom Walk Hand in Hand

Does gratitude make you a better leader?

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."  Melody Beattie, Author

Gratitude is the highest of attitudes.  This thought came to me full throttle this past week.  And, when gratitude is combined with wisdom, lessons can be learned, embraced and then taught.

Last weekend my computer got a nasty virus!  I actually started writing this at the library because after SIX days Geek Squad had still not fixed the problem.  (never again will I use Geek Squad but that's a whole other story) 

So, I was without a dedicated computer and the internet for a week.  And. sadly, I went through a withdrawal that brought up some interesting introspection.  For about 24 hours I went into a Slow_downfrenetic energy wondering how I was going to get everything accomplished that was on my ever growing to-do  list.  What do you do when things are out of your control?  I tend to ask myself, what am I supposed to be learning from this?  The answer that came to me was to slow down and get clear on what's directly in front of me.  Here's where the gratitude came in, after which wisdom came from listening to the lessons in the moment.  I made the decision to be in an attitude of gratitude and truly practiced moving moment to moment.  I took care of, and was grateful for, what was directly in front of me.

Effective leaders understand how to take the pulse of the current environment or situation and adjust accordingly when it involves things that are out of their control.  

  • Be curious.  Staying in a state of awareness means shining the light of curiosity on stumbling blocks that come into your path instead of getting frustrated over situations that at first appear formidable. 
  • Surrender to the pace instead of trying to control what you can't.  You'll find going with the flow much easier than swimming against it.  What's in the way, is the way.
  • Explore and clean out your current space. You'll be amazed with the kind of clarity you'll get from doing this.  I had a yard sale last week and used the computer down-time to clear out the old to make room for the new.  And, by new I mean fresh ideas, thoughts and energy.
  • Take the time to reach out to an old friend or contact.  Reconnecting brings on a surge of renewed energy.
  • Invest in yourself.  Take a class or read a book that you can learn from.

With Mercury Retrograde fully upon us (Sept. 7- Sept. 29), communication is particularly challenging.  And, two very public examples of that this week put the notions of gratitude and wisdom in even closer perspective.  Both Serena Williams and Kanye West had serious lapses in judgment in the way they communicated - Serena, when she berated a US Open line judge with inappropriate and vicious language; and Kanye when he selfishly stole a victorious moment away from VMA Award winner Taylor Swift. 

How can there be gratitude in these circumstances?  It may come from the realization of the impact of their actions, and for the asking for forgiveness which they both did.  Was it enough?  That's not for me to judge.  The wisdom might come from the ability to look at the full extent of their actions and to create a teaching moment for those who can learn from it, particularly those impressionable enough to look up to those particular public figures.  The wisdom comes in the lessons learned.

Gratitude is expression of truth as well as honest acknowledgment from within, and wisdom is the gift that comes from the gratitude awareness. 

Socrates said, "Wisdom begins in wonder." So, with wonder and gratitude, slow down in those moments you can't control and listen to the lessons being taught.  They very well could be great lessons in leadership.  I know I'm grateful for being forced to slow down last week.  The wisdom I gained from clearing out space, both literally and metaphorically, will serve me as I move forward with patience and perseverance.

"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."  Melody Beattie


A Quote to Live By

"Successful people are masters of their words; they do not allow words to master them."

                                                                        ~ George Foreman, Boxer & Entrepreneur


Is Leadership a State of Mind?

Fashion icon and Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland once said, "The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it."

It got me thinking about how much power we have or don't have over our own states of mind. If elegance is indeed a state of mind, then can leadership be an acquired mindset as well? I would posit that it is.

Some appear to be born leaders, and it's true that some people do have an innate sense of their DUCKLEADER_Full leadership qualities and how to put them into practice no matter what field they're in or whatever endeavor they embark on. But, there are ways to recognize and adopt a leadership state of mind. One way to do this is to examine the differences between a "manager mindset" and a "leader mindset". Both roles are necessary, but it's when you truly think and act like a leader that people and opportunities are drawn to you like magnets. And, it is then that you experience excellence and satisfaction in your career in ways you never dreamed.

  • Managers think in terms of tasks. Leaders think in terms of big picture ideas.
  • Managers tend to stay within a "checkers strategy", utilizing minimal input and not thinking too far beyond the to-do list. Leaders use "chess strategy", bringing in players to represent all points of view so the strategy is well thought out with fewer chances of unwelcome surprises. It enables them to see various scenarios in advance.
  • Managers color inside the lines, working inside a plan. Leaders look for ways to move, change or remove the lines all together, challenging and improving the plan.
  • Managers say "look at what we've done." Leaders say "how can we do what we haven't done?"
  • Managers many times find themselves in defensive mode, left to explaining "here's why it didn't get done." Leaders turn a defensive stance into a positive offense, stating the realities, but also "here's the opportunity to change the reality - new markets, ideas, products, etc." 
  • A manager mindset can feel threatened by talented co-workers. Leaders surround themselves with talent equal to or better than their own.
  • Managers control. Leaders influence.
  • A manager's result-focus is smaller, immediate and linear. A leader's result-focus is company-wide and spherical or web-like.
  • A manager's agenda can be project-oriented with the manager as the key driver. Leaders are consistent and long-term contributors, collaborators and delegators always looking for team members to champion as drivers.  
  • Managers can be worker bees who keep their head down. Leaders are the queen bees who have an impact on the entire organization. The really effective leaders have a joyful, powerful and effective energy about them.

Managers manage. Leaders lead. 

It doesn't matter what your title says. Strong, forward-thinking companies crave leaders at every level. And, these same mindset principles apply in other areas of your life as well, whether you're leading an event, running a household or spear-heading a committee.

What's your mindset? You have it within you to change yours and be the leader you were innately meant to be.

Related:

Are You Wearing Masks That Hide the Real You?