Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

Off The Mat & Into Life July 26, 2011

In yoga, we start our practice by stilling our minds & bringing our breath into our awareness & control.  We connect our bodies with our minds and spirit.  We set an intention for our practice.  We do this to prepare ourselves for our time on the mat.  We go into our practice engaged & proactive – ready to accept the challenge from a place of best intention.  

I tell my yoga students that yoga is practice for life.  That our mats are an analogy for our day.  Each day affords us the opportunity to enter engaged, prepared, and aware or to simply show up, pants on fire 5 minutes late hoping for the best.  But to quote someone smarter than me, “Hope is not a strategy.”  

Look at your day.  How often do you skid into the next meeting, still breathless from the last?  Arrive for a discussion in which there is no agenda & for which you have not prepared?  Enter into a conflict from a place of irritation versus connection?  How often do you launch into the morning with a loose plan and spend the day fighting the fires that show up at your door and inbox?

What would change if you spent 90 seconds before a meeting centering your mind by taking 3 deep, grounding breaths, and setting an intention?  What if you asked yourself before every task:  “What is the greatest result I want to achieve right now?”  This practice of setting an intention is powerful.

Our attention follows our intention.  And if we don’t consciously set an intention, we will default to whatever whim our emotions are on.  We will repeat old patterns and thus, never breakthrough.  In our relationships, we will repeat the same disagreements, feel the same old emotions, and  rerun the same scripts. 

Developing a habit of setting an intention from a place of belief & calm leads to transformation.  Big breakthroughs do not come from old ways of doing things.  They come from setting new expectations and creating clarity around what we know is possible.  Even if we haven’t yet experienced it.

 

Why Does Happiness Matter? July 25, 2011

Aristotle boldly claimed that that all human action is aimed at achieving happiness.  That happiness is a universal desire.  It doesn’t matter who you are or from where you hail; living a life full of happiness drives all of us.  Every decision and action is either a step towards or away from happiness.  In fact, happiness is the ultimate barometer of a life well lived.

I’m not talking about happiness as an emotional state of giddiness or exuberance.   I’m talking about the happiness of a content heart, a sense of peace and joy, a belief in something bigger of which we are a part, and a desire to live a virtuous, meaningful life.  Are pure joy & enthusiasm part of the equation?  Sure. But they are feelings we flow in and out of- not a state of being.  The difference?  We can sustain a state of being deep within regardless of our external circumstances by making a conscious choice to do so, and then filling our lives with the thoughts, actions, and habits that support that choice.

Here is an awesome parable from www.simpletruths.com about our ability to draw more happiness into our lives through an intentional choice to do so.

“The Road To Happiness”

A native American elder walks slowly down the path. The leaves of the trees and the soft breeze protect him from the heat of the noonday sun. In his worn, calloused hand is the small, soft hand of his young grandson. The two walk in silence.  After a time the grandfather interrupts the silence. “Grandson,” he begins, “there are two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is angry, vengeful, jealous and violent. The other wolf is peaceful, loving, compassionate and joyful.”

The boy looks up at his grandfather and asks, “Which wolf will win the battle of your heart?”

The wise elder replies, “The one I feed.”

 

Embrace Your Child’s Divinity July 22, 2011

I want my son to love to read.  To me, reading is a portal to imagination, the mind’s edge, & a new groove of thought.  Truly, since I discovered “chapter books,” reading has been a source of pure bliss for me. 

But at 8 years old, Jack has already developed a total disdain for this pastime – preferring almost any other activity to the “rigor” of reading.  While rigor is not his word, it is his perspective.  It takes stillness, concentration, & brain power to grapple with both the fundamentals of reading and the comprehension of  the story.  Both of which must be mastered before one can soak in the sheer pleasure of the book.

See… Jack was born with a chromosomal disorder that doctors believe is at the root of his speech & language apraxia, hypotonia (low muscle tone), and scrambled motor planning.  He has to work twice as hard & long to master skills, and reading is no different.  The rigor of assembling the letters into words, words into sentences, and sentences into a story taxes his brain.  It wears him out.  And God knows he tries – harder than anyone I’ve ever witnessed.  Jack never gives up, but still, little comes easily to him. 

Well – that’s not exactly true & herein lies the AHA.  Little of what our society views as “key” to success comes easily to him.  While the hardest worker in his class, Jack has yet to see an A on his report card.  He cannot throw or catch a ball, and last year in Cross Country, he finished dead last in every race against 150 other 2nd & 3rd graders.  And no matter how many times we drill, he still cannot say the K & G sounds clearly.  And reading?  It is a word by word endeavor; with the fabric of the story invisible to him as all of his energy is invested in gutting through the articulation & sentence structure. 

And yet, he laughs through it all.  He celebrates the success of his fellow cross-country teammates with no embarassment of his own performance.  He lights up a room with his love and smile, and literally everyone who meets him is touched by his huge, radiant heart.  He has amazing intuition – knowing instantly who needs kindness.  He always offers to help with the dishes, errands, or gardening; wanting nothing more than to serve and to simply connect with people he loves.  Nothing makes him happier than sitting next to you and talking about what’s on the agenda for tomorrow.  Jack is always happy.  Always.  And he is always giving.  Always. 

There is no line on the gradecard for happiness or servitude.  There is no line for kindness or willingness to always try full-out.  If there were, Jack would be at world class performance.  Because he does these things more naturally & better than anyone I’ve ever met. 

The point in all of this?  Embrace and revel in the magic of your child with total appreciation and honor of their unique design.  Build up their strengths and encourage them to feel confident in their uniqueness.   Teach them to see beyond the walls of our society’s prescribed, limiting thinking.

We spend so much time hoping for our image of “ideal” – which is often wildly different than reality – that we fail to rest confidently in the beauty of what is.   When we undervalue our own gifts by focusing on what we wish we were but aren’t, we shortchange the world our unique impact.   And when we do this to our children, we inadvertently tell them they are not enough.  That who they are is insufficient.  And yet, every one of us has been designed uniquely and divinely by a power much greater and wiser than all of us collectively added together. 

We are each enough – just as we are.  We are each destined to stamp our own brand of greatness in this world.  And we’ll do this with greater ease and joy if we GET that we are perfect as designed.  That God’s intention & love for us at point of creation is permanent and everything else impermanent.

Does this mean Jack gets a pass on reading?  Nope.  Does he still have to work exceptionally hard – going the extra mile to accomplish what some can do effortlessly?  Yep.  But it also means that I am best leading him when I help him give his own greatness to the world.  Challenging him without judgment to always give his best and not opt out of what’s hard.  Teaching him to believe in possibility & something bigger than what our world presents to us on a daily basis.

Impermanence versus Permanence.  This is worth grappling with.

 

How Good Is Your Supplier? Fantastic if they are doing these 15 things. July 18, 2011

The word partnership has become an empty marketing term in business today.  Suppliers promise it but typically have no plan to deliver it.  Thus, customers have become suspicious both of the word and of anyone touting it in a scripted sales pitch. 

And yet, the essence of a true partnership is a significant profit opportunity.  I contend high performing supplier partnerships grounded in trust & innovative thinking are truly one of the fastest ways to improve top & bottom line performance.  Value you can monetize for both your business & your supplier.  Win / Win. 

Here are 15 actions any great supplier should beg you to ask about & send their best talent to the collaboration table.   http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14324509/partnership.pdf

 

Challenge Or Opportunity? Real Or Imagined? July 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 6:19 pm
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In the midst of our modern world “strifes and struggles,” like juggling chaotic schedules,  too much work and too little time, losing a job, relocating, & intimate relationships made lukewarm by the sheer volume of “tasks” the family faces, it’s easy to lose perspective.  These struggles, while real, are experiences in our lives that shape us and create the perfect chance for growth.  The perfect time to take stock and align our lives with our dreams.  They are, while difficult, opportunities.

And they are opportunities many people around the world will never have the luxury of experiencing.  Globally, there are people fighting every day for their survival, freedom, safety, and a better life for their children.  They will never know the “challenge” of job searching after their company has downsized or having to choose between two activities scheduled at the same time. 

Below is an article about real women and children that left me counting my blessings & asking myself what I can do TODAY to make a positive impact.   Enjoy!

 “You have time for anything you are committed to.”

 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-12/afghan-women-tolerate-beating-for-cell-phones.html

 

Who’s on your hand-picked team for greatness? July 14, 2011

Recently, I spent my day in meetings with a fabulous women’s group I belong to, Committee of 200 (c200).  I have been a member of C200 for over 5 years and have been a fringe player at best.  As I was dining with them, I realized that I have missed an opportunity to engage with this group in a way that is mutually advantageous to them & to me.  This opportunity has been sitting in front of me for 5 years and it has been my choice – albeit a bit unconscious – to remain on the outskirts. 

We all have opportunities in front of us that we fail to see, embrace, or just simply make time for.  I think this is particularly true with relationships.  And yet, if we really engaged, we would experience a return higher than almost any other investment of our time.  That’s a big promise, I know.  However, when we take time to go deep with stimulating people on the greatness path, we experience quantum growth that cannot be achieved by following their blog posts or reading the most acclaimed biz book.  Depth Rules.

As the pace of work & the pressure on our results has increased, networking is easy to scrap.  I hate the word networking.  It’s really CONNECTION outside of our immediate four walls.  It is sharing, engaging, teaching, learning, serving, and bringing value.  It is being available to help, listen, and support.  It is a mutual exchange of energy, focus, and brilliance.  It is an opportunity for a fresh perspective, a paradigm shift, and an open door.  It is a phenomenal way to share your gifts, re-energize, and break through old ways of thinking and habits.

I could go on but you get the point.  Networking is an overused, empty word for purposeful connection.  And when we take time to connect with the true value of these opportunities, it’s hard to say no because we don’t have time, a meeting ran long, or we can’t get out of the office.  If you aren’t networking, you are working in a shrinking space.  Because the world is dynamic and expanding, your skills & perspective are caving in even if they are static.  Engaging with high impact, talented people who are on a quest for greatness takes the lid off.

I ask my team to consider where they are against world-class standards.  Good is highly over-rated.  And yet, if we are comparing ourselves against our little slice of the world, we’re probably just “good” even if we appear great.  “Great” high school athletes rarely are “great” collegiate athletes, and “great” collegiate athletes are rarely “world-class” pro athletes.  So what’s your marker? 

Are you content being an awesome high school athlete (playing on my somewhat weak metaphor) or are you on the world-class path?  If you are on the world class path, you must surround yourself with people who share your passion for excellence. 

Who are you surrounding yourself with?

 

Shirley Temples On The House July 13, 2011

Major breakthrough last night.  After months of practice, coaching, discussion, & tears, my six-year-old daughter finally mastered the two-wheel bike.  This is Big.  Like Shirley Temples & Smoothies For Dinner Big.  

Maya is a naturally coordinated and thus, I expected she would start riding her bike at a younger age simply because of this. But fear stalled her out.  Not just normal fear of falling, but big, irrational, tear-jerking fear.  Fear so big she was hardly willing to try.  Even mentioning a bike without training wheels resulted in her running from the room. 

Maya is not a fearful person.  She is actually courageous, creative, and willing.  However, she was literally immobilized by an irrational fear of this monstrous two-wheeled creature in our garage. 

Isn’t this true for most of us?  While there are some people who are gripped & plagued by generalized fear, most people have “a thing” that terrifies them, a “project” that haunts them, an “opportunity” they are petrified of seizing.  So, we hide, ignore, hope no one mentions it.  We look at it from around the corner & then step away.  We dodge these moments, and if we’ve had the fear for a long time, we become experts at dodging.

And yet, overcoming our irrational fears creates big breakthroughs, & incredible liberation & momentum.  When we finally stare it in the eye with determination & resolve, we find that, success or failure, it is never as bad as we imagined.  The monstrous two-wheeled creature is just a glittery pink bike with a bell & cute basket.  Failure is just a skinned knee. 

When we decide to detach the grip of fear and forge forward, we free ourselves from our own self-inflicted torment.  We learn that we have that power.  We experience the endorphin rush of new frontiers which energizes & fires us up to tackle “what’s next.”  We realize that moving forward is a lot more exhilarating than two-stepping cautiously in our safety zone. 

Exhilaration is contagious.  Not just to others but to ourselves.  It makes us hungry for more.  Facing irrational fears is the fastest path to growth.  As Nike Inspires Us:  Just Do It.  And then celebrate like crazy.  Shirley Temples On The House.