Category Archives: Leadership & management

The Power of Presence: 5 Critical Skills for Maximum Personal Effectiveness


The workplace is a web of communications between individuals and teams.

When things don’t go well, we tend to blame the other person or group.

If you’re ever tried to change anyone, you probably realize how pointless that is.

Our highest salvation and sense of peace is to work on ourselves, rise above the commotion and lead the way from a place of groundedness and authenticity.

Maintaining presence of mind in the midst of chaos is the way to accomplish that.

So, how does one maintain that presence when the world seems to be caving in on you? It is possible but takes concerted effort.

Here are the 5 skills that are critical for maximizing your effectiveness:

1. The ability to discover the things you do that other people notice but that you don’t know you do
We all have habits, patterns of behavior that seem to run themselves. We also all have blind spots. Things we do but are unaware of. Rarely do we seek them out and even less frequently, do we do anything about them

If you’re striving for maximum effectiveness in the workplace, you MUST know the impact you’re having on people. It takes courage to uncover them, but shining a light on the areas of your blindness will help you become more likeable, respected and influential.

2. The ability to calm yourself when your reptilian brain has just thrust you into Fight or Flight
When tensions mount, our instinct is to protect ourselves or annihilate the threat. Before you commit that career limiting move, take a moment to get ‘present’. That means calming yourself briefly before you lash out or duck and cover. Put your attention on your your physical body. Take a few deep breaths. Notice the pressure of your butt on the chair or your feet on the floor. Taking these few precious seconds will give you a chance to collect your more grounded thoughts and respond from a more centered place.

3. The ability to notice and objectively address the process you or a group are enmeshed in
Communication is a process which includes not just the words that are said but the underlying subtext of the conversation as well as what’s NOT being said. In a group or family, people fall into ‘roles’ they play in that community. When those roles can be brought to light in a way that is nonjudgmental the grip of the role is loosened.

For example, when a group is led by a powerful and directive boss, they may be reluctant to speak up if they have a different opinion than the one that is not being proferred. This is what triggers water-cooler conversations).

As the boss, it’s critical that you get the feedback you need in order to accomplish your goals. Notice that your staff is hesitant to be forthright with you. tell them you need their input AND THEN LISTEN AND TAKE IT INTO ACCOUNT.

As the staff member, it’s critical that you voice your perspective, not in a combative way but as another point of information that is valuable and key to moving forward on the right path.

4. The ability to quiet our inner critic
To be human is to have a voice that tries to protect us from harm. Unfortunately, it usually stops us from taking ‘risks’ that would actually be helpful to our personal growth. Notice what your inner critic or judge usually says to you. Then when it pipes up (in your head) in various situations, notice it and say ‘Thank you for pointing that out’.

Then imagine that there is a miracle awaiting you on the other side of whatever fear it raised and take some action toward bringing that miracle into fruition.

5. The ability to cultivate the Sage within you
There is another voice within us that knows what’s possible on a grander scale than what our human persona normally perceives. It is the voice of intution, Spirit, knowingness, God (or whicheve deity enlightens your world).

It whispers to us to take action. It’s suggestions sometimes scare us and that’s almost always a signal that growth or transformation is right around the corner if we go there.

Cultivating the Sage means creating quiet time and space for it to speak to us during periods of restfulness,

meditation or prayer. It means listening to the voice and honoring it by taking action on its suggestions. It’s a discipline and practice, being quite and taking acion. Ant it is a practice, that if done consistenly, will pay off in really big ways.

So, be aware then be courageous. Release the judge that condemns yourself and others. Invite the Sage to take a larger role in your life and the power of this new presence will dramatically improve your personal effectiveness.

Let me know how it works out for you!

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How to Know If Your Business Loves YOU

There are several prerequisites for having a business that loves you as much as you love being a business owner.

It’s tempting to delude yourself into accepting less than you deserve because you’re so enamored with the concept of being a business owner.

The reality of it can be a much different story.

When we live in a state of delusion, we’ll accept less than we deserve. We put up with and tolerate behavior that is not conducive to our well-being.

So how do you know if your business is being true to you? How do you know if it’s putting you above all else? How do you know if it would take a bullet for you?

“What’s a body to do?”, you ask.

Establish criteria and expectations that will allow you to lead a lifestyle that inspires you.

1. Schedule vacations

Without proper planning, you could end up working throughout the entire year. When you do your business planning (you DO do that don’t you?), decide how much time you want to take off and then block it out on your calendar. You don’t have to know where you’re going to go (although that helps), you just need to commit to when.

2. Work in your sweet spot

Most people go into business because of a passion or area of expertise thinking that’s how they’ll spend most of there time. Then they realize there is so much more that’s required in running a business. When you’re new you may not be able to afford all of the help you need, but before you think you CAN afford it, start outsourcing tasks you hate or aren’t good at. Doing so will actually free you up to be more creative and thus afford you the time to work on things that will generate more sales.

3. Value your time an expertise

You deserve to be paid what you’re worth. Focus on sharing your gifts with others for recompense in addition to the pure joy of it. Don’t undervalue your knowledge and passion. People need your unique perspective and want help from someone who knows more than they do.

4. Work with people you adore

This is definitely one of the big perks of being in business. You get to choose your ideal clients. This is particularly true if you’re in a service business. You target the kind of folk you want to work with. You don’t have to make an ‘offer’ to everyone if you’re not interested. Or, you could add a premium to the price so it feels more palatable to you. I don’t strongly recommend that option. It’s one thing to charge more for work you enjoy less. It seems almost mean to do it for such personal reasons as not liking someone. Just say ‘no’ and move on.

5. It pays you well

I remember talking with a graphic designer 20 years ago when I first started my jewelry design business. I sold hand-crafted earrings and necklaces at Art & Wine festivals in northern California. As we were chatting about my new business (I was very excited), I revealed how much I paid in entrance (booth) fees for the more popular shows. Her reaction was “Oh. I guess you’re happy to just break even.”

I looked at her in dismay. “No”, I said. “I almost always make a substantial profit. And on those occasions when I don’t, I know it’s an aberration and I don’t do that particular show again (unless it was just rained out which was a rare occurrence).

Pristine Beach East Zanzibar
Image via Wikipedia

That jewelry business paid for a 3 1/2 week trip to Tanzania for a safari, a week in Zanzibar and a week in the ‘bush’ with the Masai. It was a great way to start off in the business world. And even today, my pricing reflects the value I provide to my clients not just the minimum to ‘break even’ and cover the bills.

So, if your business loves you, you’ll enjoy your work and your clients. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy live.

You’ll be valued by your clients and you’ll be paid what you’re worth.

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7 Keys to a Mindset that Makes Magic Happen

I attended a training session recently and the speaker said something that reminded me of my days of being a mainframe BAL computer programmer. You may have heard the phrase “garbage in – garbage out”, or GIGO for short.

It reflects the idea that no matter how elegant a program or system is, if you put bad (trashy) data into it, the results you get will still stink.

The speaker took a different take on this concept choosing to focus on a more positive approach with PIPO or “positive in – positive out”. His challenge to us was to intentionally bring more inspiration and uplifting information into our personal computer (i.e. brain) to counter all of the negative messages we get from less inspired, less empowered, less self-determining people that might be occupying our personal space.

His acronym, PIPO, reminded me of my first doll, Pippo. My adoptive mother gave him to me the day she first brought me home with her. I was about one year old then and Pippo is still around now. (Shocking to think how old that makes him!)

To this day, he occupies a prominent space on my bookshelf with photos of my biological siblings I ‘found’ almost 10 years ago. It’s quite an amazing story which could be the subject of another book (and probably will be). If you want to read the (somewhat) Cliff’s notes version of it, go to Happy Reunion Story.

In any event, I’ve identified 7 specific behaviors which I say sustain a mindset that makes magic happen. Do these things consistently and you’ll fly high and achieve your goals all the faster.

1. Read positive, uplifting books and articles on a consistent basis
Daily reading is best and the optimal times for these readings is first thing in the  morning and just before falling asleep.  My morning readings energize me and remind me that all things are possible. Right now I’m reading “The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity” by Edwene Gaines and The Forty Day

2. Go on a detox diet
Get rid of foods that don’t serve you and people who drag you down. You’ve probably heard the story about crabs in a barrel. It’s been said that if you put crabs in a barrel, some will try to climb to the top to escape but others will pull them back down into the fray where they are all stuck. You may have ‘friends’ that spit on your dreams, who never think anything good can happen, that tell you you’re foolish to believe. Get rid of them: quickly if you can, slowly if you have to. At the least, reduce the time you spend with them and ignore much of what they say to you.

3. Watch and listen to intelligent shows on radio and TV
Local network news doesn’t really qualify. It’s mostly watered down. National news is better, global even more so. Angry people yelling their opinions can be useful to get a read on the mindset of some sectors of America, but don’t believe what you hear.

The truth often gets reduced to soundbites which may not even reflect the underlying story. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sitcom or SVU episode. It’s just I don’t spend my entire life in front of the TV. You may need to get your mind off work for a while, but if you’re striving to make magic happen, you’d be better off trading your TV time for inspirational books, meaningful  discussions with those close to you, making and enacting plans to better      your OWN life.

4. Meditate
Just a few minutes each day will help reducs stress and connect you to your higher self, the seat of knowledge. I’m amazed at the doors of opportunity that open with a few minutes a day spent in reflection and prayer.

5. Be grateful for what you have
Even when times are bleak, devote some time to look for and express gratitude for the good in your life. Bank account dry? Be thankful you have clean water and rice in the cupboard. Lost that big deal? Give thanks for the brains that allowed you to get that close and learn from the experience. Passed over for a promotion? Be thankful for opportunity to express your desire and skills. Keep sharpening them and looking for the next opening.

6. Sing, dance, move, listen
Harp music has been shown to reduce stress and even help with the healing of medical ailments. Dance energizes our bodies and stirs our souls. Hiking expands the lungs sending fresh oxygen to the brain.

Even if you don’t do these things regularly or well, work something different into your routine. Remember PIPO. Infuse yourself with that which soothes you. Express what’s in your heart.

7. Help someone less fortunate
A business referral group I’m in just adopted a down-on-their-luck family and donated toys and gift cards to a variety of stores. The woman who delivered the gifts sent out an email that brought tears to my eyes even though my contribution was just one of many. To feel that positive impact our action had on people I didn’t even know was so uplifting.  Feed the homeless. Donate your time. Make your little corner of the world a better place.

Alchemy is the process of transforming something common into something special.

Institute any or all of these (or amp them up if you’re already doing them) and you will cause a shift in your environment, both physical and energetic. Make magic happen.

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Conflict Resolution Tips: How to Fix What You’re Fighting About

People try to avoid conflict but conflict is inevitable. The key is learning how to effectively DEAL with conflict that occurs in life.

Generally when conflict exists, people become polarized in their positions. The more the conflict grows, the more attached they become to ‘winning’.  They fight and fight over which way the situation will go.

Tempers flare. Feelings get hurt. Resentments build. It becomes a power struggle with little hope for peaceful resolution.

It’s ‘my way or the highway!’

The way around the stalemate is to focus on interests rather than solutions.

Here are three easy tips to get underneath the situation and increase the chances of making true progress while keeping the relationships between the parties in decent condition.

1. Ask your adversary why they prefer the solution they proposed

2. Find out what is important to them about that solution they offered

3. Ask him or her what they are afraid might happen if their proposed solution isn’t implemented

As Stephen Covey so eloquently stated in The 7 Habits of Highly

Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Stephen Covey at the FMI Show, Palestrante on ...
Image via Wikipedia

Asking these questions will demonstrate to the other person that you are interested in understanding them and their situation.

Hearing the answers might actually influence your ‘position’. Let it. That puts you a step closer to finding a solution that works for both of you.

Once you’ve unearthed the rationale behind their position, share the answers to the questions you posed. Do so in a collaborative manner: not to make them change their mind, but to help them gain some insight into your situation and thinking.

Once you’ve gotten the underlying issues on the table, set aside both sets of solutions.

Brainstorm for other, more creative options that address the underlying needs you both expressed.

When you ‘attack’ problems from addressing underlying needs and interests, the solutions you devise will be more satisfying and effective.

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Do People See You a Leader or a Liability?

Russian Rainbow Gathering. Nezhitino, August 2005
Image via Wikipedia

While I’ve always been rather moderate in my politics, I am a child of the 60’s. One of the phrases that was used a lot back then by the militants and flower children was ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”.

As you review your own behavior in life, do you make sure you’re part of the solution or would others see you as part of the problem?

When you’re part of the problem, you probably feel victimized by your circumstances, powerless to change them and/or resigned that nothing you do can fix what’s really wrong with your world.

This likely leaves you reluctant to take action, bitter and resentful, maybe even hopeless.

You would recognize this by the language you use privately in your own head and in conversation with others.

“Why bother?”

“If only those idiots over there would get their act together…”

“I can’t…”

“I have to…”

They all reflect a loss of power, a lack of empowerment, an absence of responsibility for causing the world to be the way you say it should be.

So, I’ll ask again, “Are you a leader or a liability?” And just as important…how to people SEE you?

Leaders get ahead, get promoted, get great clients.

Liabilities get ignored or worse yet, fired, retired, RIFed (reduced in force), laid off or go broke.

So what does it take to be seen as a leader in your company, community, business or family?

Three things distinguish leaders from whiners and naysayers.

1. Leaders DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE to fix the problem once they’ve identified it.

The don’t sit around and blame The Establishment, their bosses, employees, kids or spouse for their problem.  They name the problem and communicate. They make requests or demands for it’s resolution…from someone who is empowered to take that action.  They might even take the matter into their own hands and fix it themselves.

2. Leaders strive to bring opposing sides together to see an outcome that will benefit the larger community. They care about the impact of their actions on others.

Collaboration is the strategy true leaders use to create common goals and passion for making them real.

3. Leaders encourage others to feel empowered and helpful, not righteous, smug and victorious, wanting to suppress the rights of others.

When people are working on altruistic causes, they WILL feel enlightened. Their Spirit will know they are on the right track.  Certainly some leaders can push non-altruistic, selfish causes, but their followers will tend to feel entitled and indignant rather than grounded in the common good.

Liabilities, on the other hand sit back and point fingers. They lay blame and accuse others of being the Bad Guys without offering any proactive suggestions to improve conditions.

They enact a quiet, and sometimes, not so quiet, mutiny. They sabotage forward movement. They throw rocks into the cogwheels of progress. They pride themselves in making life difficult for others.

They may be proactive but could tend to use domination and force rather than collaboration and power balancing.

So, how would the people around you see you? Are you bringing solutions for the betterment of all or waiting for someone else to step forward while complaining they aren’t acting swiftly enough?

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