Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

What’s riskier than heart disease & diabetes? May 17, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 1:18 pm
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According to the Surgeon General, the greatest health risk American’s face isn’t Cardiovascular, Diabetes or Cancer, but isolation.

To varying degrees, isolation is something we have all experienced. Often times occurring even when we are surrounded by people.  So how do we learn to combat these feelings?  The answer is in creating meaningful connections.

Connecting with those around you goes deeper than merely being in their presence.  It’s breathing with them, genuinely seeing them, listening with our hearts and minds, and truly putting ourselves in their shoes.  Often times we become entranced in our own experience and forget to be fully present with others.  Mindfully shifting our perspectives teaches us to breath in our own discomfort while breathing back into the world the love and service we feel and want to cultivate in others.

Today, when you encounter someone who feels isolated, I encourage you to commit to connecting with them on a deeper level.  Through this connection, you allow them to break their cycle of fear and not only heal themselves, but through the process of connecting, heal yourself and go on to heal other.  With this cycle of healing, we can begin to heal our planet one person at a time.

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Character Vs The Coveted May 4, 2016

This week, my son asked my daughter if he could borrow one of her pencils.  Not just any pencil but a mechanical pencil from her arsenal of coveted writing utensils that she purchased with her own money.  This resulted in a narrowing of the eyes and a sharp breath.  Dead silence.

Then, the slow release of an exhale followed by one simple syllable:  No.   Crestfallen, my son’s eyes welled.  The pleading ensued; matched by equally convincing stonewalling.

In steps Switzerland (aka: mom).  I prompted them to consider that, in every moment, we are building character habits.  It’s not enough to want to be someone who shares freely – we must actually do it even when its hard.  It’s not enough to want to be resilient – we must actually persevere even when we feel defeated.  It’s never about the mechanical pencil.

What is your mechanical pencil?  Is there something or someone you covet so strongly that you compromise your character for it?  Your “something” might be the need to be right (ouch), the need for control, or even your fear of failure.  Or, it might be as simple as an ego-feed object (think designer boots, luxury cars, big homes).  It could even be stress.  What?

If you find yourself talking about how busy you always are or how crazy your schedule is (this conversation is always concluded with a sigh), then perhaps you are addicted to your story of stress.  And this is your mechanical pencil.

Let me explain.  If the qualities you desire to envelope your life are peace & joy, this story of stress is competing against your character.  What are you choosing?  Just look at what you are talking about.  Are you talking about how you are creating more peace and joy or how crazy your life is?

If you desire to live a life blanketed in your faith, do your actions and words line up?  If you desire to make a difference in the lives of kids & your gift is writing, are you writing that children’s book or is fear holding you back?

Our modern world loves to distract us, and we all have our personal Goliaths lurking everywhere.  Instead of blindfolding ourselves in their presence, conceding to their strength based on their intimidating size, or worse yet, befriending them, can we all see that the choice we make in these moments have a compounding result?  That it is more than a decision about a mechanical pencil – it is a choice of character.

How did the pencil story end?  I’d like to say she had her own AHA after my profound guidance. But alas, no.  She promptly opened our junk drawer, pulled out a nub of a #2 pencil with broken lead & no eraser, handed it to her brother, and walked out of the room.  Better than nothing, but not exactly what my motherly idealism hoped for.  And in this moment, I get choose:  My parenting “value” of believing in my kids to create their own learning as they are ready or my need to control.  What will I choose?  And what will you choose when it counts?

 

Me So Stupid April 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 11:55 pm
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I have played around with meditation for years, but quite honestly, the word “dabbling” is just barely an honest assessment of my commitment to the practice.

Don’t get me wrong; I am fascinated by this age-old habit.  I read EVERYTHING under the sun on the topic, I attended trainings, I listened to podcasts, I espoused its benefits, I had even TAUGHT meditation.  But actually meditating  on a daily basis?  Well….

Until about 2 years ago.

What happened?  I had the profound realization that stress makes you stupid.  I have always nurtured an intimate, behind closed doors relationship with stress.  Don’t we all?  We work so hard to make it look pretty on the outside, but the inside feels like a pressure cooker, a precariously balanced stack of plates, a juggling act with bowling balls and knives.  Welcome to modern-day living.  In fact, we’ve become so desensitized to stress that many of us wear it like a badge of honor.

Gut check on that:  If you’ve found yourself droning on about your endless task list to a friend or bragging about your Herculean feat of getting 3 kids to different practices while finishing a work assignment and planning a meal – you may be a stress addict.

Hello.  My name is Laura.  And I am an adrenaline junkie.  There.  It’s said.

Stress has taken a fairly big toll on my life; most notably my health.  9 years ago, my body nearly shut down, and had it not been for the loving guidance of my doctor & support of my family, I would have suffered much more.  Maybe thick-headed, but that was not enough for me to step into a daily practice of meditation.  I toyed with it, practiced haphazardly, meditated for months on end and then matched it with months OFF end.

Until 2 years ago when I realized that stress made me stupid.  I have high value for critical thinking, creative problem solving, & articulate communication.  These are “success virtues” in my book, and it took realizing that stress compromised my critical thinking, stymied my creativity, and chopped up my communication before I decided to get serious about meditation.  Health impairment I can live with.  Stupidity?  No way.  (Subject of another blog).

Here’s the simple truth:  meditation is the fastest route to less stress.  Period.  Those of us who think we can’t sit still, can’t calm down, can’t relax enough to meditate are the PERFECT CANDIDATES for this easy but quite messy practice.  All you have to do is sit, close your eyes, and follow your breath.  Witness yourself in stillness.  Stay in the discomfort.  Breathe.  Breathe Again.  10 Minutes:  voila!

Do I meditate every day?  NO!  Even now, I find a day (and sometimes days) slide by without intentional effort on my part.  Be gentle with yourself but disciplined.  Try it for 60 days @ 10 minutes a day.  (I promise you – you can carve out 10 minutes).  Meditation doesn’t take time – it creates time.  It creates a calmer mind, a warmer heart, and a more open and reception you.  You are worth it!

 

 

How Valuable is Conflict? Amazingly So. July 12, 2011

What would change for you if you could instantly reframe every source of conflict or constraint as an opportunity? 

Instead of:  We don’t have enough money to invest in that endeavor.  Insert: We know with certainty that this investment will create breakthrough results for our business.  What options for funding exist to make it happen against our timeline?

Instead of:  I tried to negotiate better service levels but I hit a brick wall.  There’s nothing else I can do.  Insert: My supplier has to date refused to take our relationship to the next level, and so I know I have not yet understood how they evaluate our relationship and what creates value for them.  How can I discover what options exist for a win/win?

Instead of: My peer & I always argue about this problem and the likelihood of someone changing their mind and conceding is low.  Thus, it will always be a point of conflict between us.  Insert:  My peer & I have an opportunity to collaborate together to turn this problem area into an area of true strength for the business and for each of us.  How can I engage them in this dialog versus arguing about the issue?

Instead of:  My days continuously get eaten with urgent issues and constant requests from others even though I know I need to focus on more strategic opportunities.  I am working endless hours, am stressed, and can’t make any headway on my business plan.  Insert:  What I am doing currently isn’t working.  What 5 options exist to create space in my calendar each day to do the most important work? 

Every day, I hear people talk about what they should do, want to achieve, or wish was the reality.  Every day, I witness conversations between people with different perspectives and instead of valuing those differences, they treat it as conflict.  Every day, I witness people experiencing unnecessary stress because of how they think about something. 

How we think about something is a CHOICE.

What changes if you practice seeing the opportunity?  Get curious about the win/win?  Engage others from a place of possibility?  What changes if you gently lead your peers in identifying where they are spiraling downward in thought versus exploding upward? 

It all sounds easy.  But the reality is that conflict and constraint are highly emotionally charged.  And once our emotion surges in the form of anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, worry, or irritation, it’s hard to stabilize, return to center, and then cross over the line to curiosity, engagement, optimism, passion, and joy.  It’s hard, but not impossible. 

And because no one performs well with their back against the wall, it’s imperative.  But most people will never practice developing this skill.  This is a skill that doesn’t come more easily to some than others…  It’s just a skill that some people are highly committed to building & nurturing. 

When you encounter someone who practices it, you’ll know.  They’re the superstars people love to work with.  They’re the ones who initiate the next frontier for a team or business unit.  They’re the ones who stay focused on the win/win when everyone else is stuck in what’s not working. 

They’re the ones who treat challenges as a thrill because they know that within lies the seed of possibility.

 

How Facilitators Kill Meetings June 27, 2011

How many of the meetings you’ve attended in the last 14 days have been 1) high output, 2) on task, 3) optimistic & innovative, & 4) totally energizing? We’re talking mind expanding, big results, & lots of fun.  Yes, Fun.  Probably not many. 

And yet, “meetings” exist to create something better through the creative collaboration of success-aligned people who each bring something unique to the table. 

What happens?

Typically, the meeting organizer fails to set expectations.  We’ve all had the experience where we find ourselves stopping important work to attend a meeting for which there is no agenda.  Or, the agenda is so loose, it’s not clear what the desired outcome is.  We show up, and the first 10 minutes are spent waiting for the chronically tardy while small talking about America’s Got Talent.  All the while, our frustration is soaring & our minds have run adrift. 

So, here are some fundamentals to implement throughout your org.

1) No Pre Defined Agenda & Outcomes – No Meeting.

2) Meetings scheduled for the right amount of time based on the complexity & importance of the outcomes.  If you need 15 minutes, schedule 15 minutes – not 30.  People have a bad habit of arbitrarily blocking 60 minutes because this is the Microsoft Outlook Default.  Be Respectful Of Other’s Time. 

3) Every meeting starts with a clarification of the desired outcomes & a validation that the right people & data are present.  If the answer to either is NO, meeting is rescheduled. 

4) Every meeting ends with a wrap up that identifies 1) decision points, 2) action items with dates & assignments, 3) outstanding questions that are either going to a parking lot or have been assigned for follow-up.  4) Next Steps.

5) Meeting Minutes Are Mandatory, and unless confidential, sharable.

6) Start on time & end on time.  No exceptions.

7) The facilitator’s energy, tone, & desire matter.  Train your facilitators to host awesome meetings that inspire & engage.

Here’s a biggie.  Adopting a set of ground rules is a powerful way to transform meetings.  They should map to your culture, values, and goals.  Here are some that we use that are particularly valuable. 

1) Presence – Be Here & Nowhere Else.

2) Trust Your Gifts – Trust that you have tremendous value to offer.

3) Take Risks – The risk is not in sharing yourself but in withholding yourself.

4) Curiosity – “Quality questions create a quality life.  Successful people ask better questions & as a result, get better answers.”  (Tony Robbins)

5) Be the Student – Learn, Study, Challenge.  Nothing coalesces thought like writing it down.

6) Authenticity – Be YOU – out loud with confidence.  Embrace your awesomeness.

7) Chill in the Discomfort – Growth requires discomfort – embrace it. 

8) Use discernment – not judgment.  No rights & wrongs… Just the paving of the most amazing available path.

9) Jam Out – Control Your State.  Stay optimistic, engaged, & energized.

10) Listen – Honor the wisdom of others.  Allow everyone’s gift & perspective to embed in the solution.

11) Embrace Possibility – In every challenge is an opportunity.  “Dwell in Possibility.”  Emily Dickenson.

Almost all businesses depend on meetings (aka: collaboration) to achieve success, and every single one should be high impact, meaningful, and aligned with the vision.  Creating powerful meetings takes discipline, and the return is well worth the process.  What ideas can you share about facilitating powerful meetings?

 

Seth, Superman, & Your Cape June 23, 2011

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog, and truthfully, it is one of the few that I read faithfully.  Often, I finish reading and am singing, Right On! Or – That is SO IT!  Not all – but many are Eureka moments. Not because he’s sharing information that is new or because it falls into the genius category (although some of it does).  And not because I agree with all of it (because I don’t).  But because he’s incredibly concise.  He speaks in punches.  No flowerly rhetoric, no strange metaphors… just his clear, quick view on reality. 

And he is profoundly SETH.  His style is totally unique and unwavering.  You could read his blog in a lineup with 50 others, and you could pick his out.  He literally puts himself on the page.  A little raw and sometimes in fragments, but always his candid, sometimes sardonic opinion presented in a way intended to bend your mind and widen your perspective.  This is his brilliance.   

We all have the opportunity to be profoundly US.  Most of us mask our true self by overediting our words – both spoken & written – or copying the style of someone else.  But have you noticed that the wildly successful folks with big time tribes are simply the real deal?  They put it out exactly the way they feel it & see it?  And people SWARM to them because we all love authenticity & courage.

And being 150% “raw you” takes courage.  Most of us adapt like chameleons to our setting.  Adaptability is good, but there is a fine line before you abandon who you truly are at your core.  And thus, you shortcut people’s access to you in your purest form.  Our brilliance (and we are all brilliant in our own way) only manifests when we are authentic with the world.  Thus, donning the mask or wearing someone else’s Superman Cape simply cheats the world of our brilliance.  That’s a high cost.  Plus, trying to fit into someone else’s cape is just too much work.  And even if we can squeeze in, we’ll still never take flight.

 

Death by email. May 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 1:49 pm
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Newsflash:  Email is not a replacement for verbal conversation.  More and more, people are using email like OZ behind the wall.  So, here are a few hints on when to shut down the computer and select a better way to share:

1) There have been 3 emails sent between you& recipient just trying to clarify the topic.

2) Your message will require more than 2 paragraphs. 

3) Your message will contain more than 3 or more points you need someone to follow up on. (3 might be pushing it).

4) You are about to ask someone to help solve an important problem in which you need their full attention & mental engagement.  (WHen’s the last time you thoughtfully answered emails versus just whipping through them?)

5) Your message has the potential to upset, ruffle, or distress someone.

Email is awesome.  But it is just a tool.  Like all tools, it doesn’ t fit all jobs.  And it isn’t the only tool.  Phone, face-to-face, skype, text, video conferencing, webinars, photos, letters (on real paper), & meetings, and others are all viable & have their best use.  Stay conscious about how you communicate.  Remember, the objective isn’t simply to serve it out there; it’s to engage someone in the message and in a relationship with you.