Lead Your Life

Awake, Aligned, and Grounded In Truth

Keepin’ It Real March 24, 2011

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Yesterday, I shared a post from SUCCESS Magazine about authenticity.  Another way to define authenticity is simply “keeping it real”.

Sounds great, but most of us have a mask we wear as a leader.  Ask yourself:  Do you feel you need to convey control, have it all together, and look & behave a certain way to garner credibility?  Are you a different person after business hours? 

The irony is that our mask creates a deep divide between us and the people we lead, rendering us less effective at engaging them in creating amazing results & giving all of themselves. 

Without intention, we become untouchable & inaccessible.  This is why many leaders report feeling alone at the top.  From a pedestal, the fall is far & highly visible.  So we work harder to maintain this “exterior” of perfection, and over time, our own understanding of our true self becomes blurred, and we are nagged by a sense of loss, feeling alone, and a misalignment with our truth.  And In Walks Burn Out.

By making a conscious decision to rediscover & show our true self often results in a wave of relief.  Most people find that people immediately speak more candidly, become more engaged, and deliver better results.  People work for people.  And we all do better work for people who we genuinely know and feel a connection to. 

“Flipping the switch” to remove the mask is hard.  We’ve developed habits over time, and keeping it real requires vulnerability, a desire to connect, and the confidence to show the good and bad.  It’s an easier path to hide the “bad parts” than it is to expose them. 

But the reality is we suffer in the long term.  When we feel we must “act,” we subconsciously tell ourselves that who we are is not enough, and that we need to be bigger, more competent, or more exciting.  

It takes a conscious choice to examine your own masks.  What small step can you take towards greater authenticity?  How can you relax in the truth of you and trust that you will be a better leader for it?  You won’t know if you don’t try.  And the gift of it all is that we inspire others to live their own truth when they observe us doing it.  As leaders, giving ourselves permission to embrace authenticity creates a culture that embraces authenticity.  But it starts with us.


Great ted.com talk on authenticity March 22, 2011

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Here’s a link to a fantastic talk about authenticity.  http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html.

Brene Brown was invited to talk to the ted.com audience about her research on authenticity and its impact on individuals, families, business, and cultures.  Her work demonstrates measurably the link between our vulernability – which requires strength of character & soul – and our impact on the world.  She makes a case for cultural healing based on one individual at a time embracing authenticity. 

It’s well worth the 20 minutes of viewing time.  Enjoy & Share!


The Steep Price of Talk March 18, 2011

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I often remind my managers to stay aware of their involvement in a big somewhat counterintuitive killer of results and momentum – talk.  Talk?  Isn’t is necessary for great communication, collaborating, processing?  Yet, I believe talk is the death of progress. 

I’m not suggesting talk is without value & I’m not referring to all verbal communication.  I’m referring to the talk that focuses on the past, ruminates, makes excuses, belabors who said what, and tapdances circularly around the elephant in the room.   The talk that finds pleasure at the surface & thus fails to find root cause & create optimal paths forward.  And yes, I’m referring to the talk about interesting and perhaps relevant issues that are unrelated to game changers that create something amazing.  Picture executives using a strategy session to discuss rehabbing a training room or psycho-evaluating a key manager’s repetitive failure to execute.  

All of these examples stem from a lack of confidence & knowledge, a fear of risk & change, a habit of indecision, a lack of burning desire, or a failure to recognize what’s required to make quantum shifts in our area of control. 

The simple truth is that this talk is just a socially acceptable way to stall out, maintain the status quo, and not push your limits.

My “rule” is 5% or less time is spent on this type of talk.  The rest follows a cycle of: VISION, PLAN, SCHEDULE, & ACT.  VISION- Create the strategy.  Where are we going & when will we get there?  Who are we, and what value do we bring to the world?  PLAN – How will we get there?  Key milestones?  Measurables?  Game changing projects?  SCHEDULE:  What actions are needed to hit milestones, nail goals, and deliver game changing results?  When will you do these things?  **This step involves actually putting these key actions on your calendar.  What isn’t scheduled is just a dream or wish.  ACT:  Execute the plan.  Go-Time.   

The cycle repeats itself….  Revisiting the vision to make sure it’s still relevant (I recommend doing this 2 – 3 times a year, and pre-scheduling these sessions).  Revisiting the PLAN to make sure it is optimized to achieve the vision.  (Revisit quarterly).  Creating the schedule weekly so you know exactly what you will accomplish the following week.  Add some emotional juice to the he schedule – get fired up about what you are going to accomplish and the impact it will have.  Love the Outcomes.  Success goes through the roof when we engage enthuasiastically & energetically with our work.


“As we think and act, so our world becomes.” The Dhammapadda March 7, 2011

What do you count as the non-controllables on your path to success?  The economy? Your shareholders?  Ineffective team members?  Too little time?  Too little money?  A non-controllable is nothing more than a barrier we believe can thwart our success but that we can do little about. 

Every belief we hold about non-controllables are merely our perception of reality.  They stem from the way we choose to think about our situation. 

The majority of us dedicate great mental energy to barriers we believe we cannot control.  In other words, we ruminate on the barriers we think we are powerless to change.  We take a passive, victimized position of assuming they are inevitable and “the way things are.”  Intellectually, we know it’s crazy to focus on limitations we believe we cannot impact.  And yet, it happens all the time.

If we believe these to be insurmountable hurdles outside of our control, they are.  Real or perceived; they will prohibit our success because we have empowered them to derail our success. 

We do have a choice:  a choice to change our thoughts.  What if we believed these conditions and people will not impede our progress?  That, even in their midst, there is a way around, above, under, or through?  That, in fact, they are part of the challenge and thus part of the solution?  Better yet, what if we viewed each of these “non-controllables” as entirely controllable and as opportunities? 

It’s just a shift of thought.  Some view a poor economy as a liability.  Some view it as the greatest time to gain market share.  How do you think about it?  Think of your perceived non-controllables.  How would your actions change if you changed your thoughts about them?  Your resilience?  Your belief of what is possible?  

Can you think of a single great achievement made without bumps, undesirable conditions, or a few naysayers?  It’s how we think about them that determines their  impact.  Thus, they are all controllables, as we choose the energy we invest in them and we own the beliefs that allow them to stop us short or propel us forward. 

Imagine how much more easily success would flow and blossom if we embraced these conditions and used them to create a better result!