Home

balance-15712_1280

We are hardwired to believe that in order to be successful, we must be able to do many things really well and equally well. Well…I have to tell you that this fallacy is one of the major contributors to the amount of stress we feel every day to “do it all” and “be it all”. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we are always craving this ugly word called BALANCE!

As a life-long dancer, balance is critical! In fact, I dare say that it’s absolutely essential for being a superb dancer. But in life, business strategy, and in leadership, I’m not so sure that it is.

Take this quote below as an example. I was reading this article last night about Anthropologie’s tremendous success, and how they attribute it in great part to not being everything to everybody, and not doing the same conventional things that their competitors do. In fact, what they owe much of their success to is what they don’t do.

Read on…

“One of our core philosophies,” explains Anthropologie president Glen Senk, “is that we spend the money that other companies spend on marketing to create a store experience that exceeds people’s expectations. We don’t spend money on messages — we invest in execution.”

This reminds me of one of my favorite tools that I use when working with leaders—The Four Domains of Leadership Strength:

  1. Executing
  2. Influencing
  3. Relationship Building
  4. Strategic Thinking

If you haven’t yet used the tool StrengthsFinder 2.0, which tells you where your top talents lie within these domains, then this may be new to you. But let’s keep it simple, here’s what you need to know: Not everyone is dominant in all four of these domains! Some people’s talents may be equally dispersed among these strengths domains, but more often than not, we tend to be dominant in one or two.

Clearly, Anthropologie’s strength lies in the execution of their store experience. Once their ideal client walks through their doors they are immersed in a world that speaks to their souls. They execute…and they execute well, because that’s their focus.

It’s the same for each of us. When we are keenly aware of what we are naturally great at, and we spend most of our focus there, the likelihood that we will feel stressed or unsuccessful decreases significantly. We are in our zone!

For example, my two strongest domains lie in Strategic Thinking and Relationship Building. This doesn’t mean that I’m not good at executing or influencing, actually, I’m pretty great at both, but I get things done faster, and with greater pleasure and success when my focus is placed on all things strategic and relationships. As a leader I always kept this top of mind, because I knew that I would be much more effective when I was able to delegate to others in my team who were STRONG in execution—“getting things done” and influencing—“pulling people in”. And guess what? I did have people on my team whose strengths were in those domains. It was wonderful to see and feel the excitement and engagement when we could all focus on what we were great at.

“Balance is a great concept, truly. But it’s better for dancers than for leaders!”            ~Monique Catoggio

I’ll leave you with this additional quote to mull over:

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
~Greg McKeownEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Namaste, Monique

flower-399409_1280

Happy Spring!

I truly love this time of year, not simply because the weather is more tolerable (in Miami that is!) and mostly beautiful, but because this time of year is so symbolic. At the end of March we had the Spring Equinox and Easter, which spiritually symbolize rebirth…a shedding of the darkness and solitude of winter, and an opening to our lightness and our eternal selves.

Although, ideally we should be aware of and ready to shift those dark aspects of our experiences as they happen, from moment to moment, it’s always valuable to our spiritual and emotional growth to find a time to more deeply assess what has or should now transform within us and why. That’s how symbolism and rituals serve us–they cue us to pause our daily lives and prod, question, accept, forgive, understand, decide, take action, and ultimately transform.

I hope you’re not thinking of transformation as some HUGE change we must make in our lives. Nope. It could simply be a tiny awakening to something within us that has or needs to change (even die!) in some small way so that we can, indeed, bloom! That is, after all, how change happens– in each breath, and in each miniscule movement. Our cells are changing constantly. Yes, we ARE the definition of constant change, so we should be more open to embracing it and inciting it!

For those of you up to the task this, here’s a fun activity that can help us think about what within us or outside of us needs to transform in some way, what needs to get kicked to the curb, and what seeds need to be planted so that they grow deep roots in our lives.

  • Briefly scan this list of the 12 Dimensions of Wellbeing (from the Wellness Inventory – a well-being assessment and tool I use in my work):
    • Self-Love and Responsibility
    • Breathing
    • Sensing
    • Eating
    • Moving
    • Thinking
    • Feeling
    • Play and Work
    • Communicating
    • Intimacy
    • Finding Meaning
    • Transcending
  1. What dimension(s) jumped out at you? Pick one to start with.
  2. Ask yourself: “What about my (i.e., Intimacy) needs to change, die, or grow?”
  3. Then ask, (Pick a new dimension) “How can the dimension of (i.e., breathing) help me transform my (go back to the first one you picked – Intimacy)?”

Try this with just a few of the dimensions, or all 12 and see what shows up. It’s fun to do with a friend as well and create a nice dialogue. I guarantee you’ll come up with a list of things to think about, as well as some meaningful transformations you feel will help you “rise” this year. Allow your intuition to speak to you, and don’t think too hard. Even without an exercise to guide us, we often know what must change and simply need to find the courage to take those next steps.

May you spring into this new season with a pep in your step, a passion-filled heart, and a mission-driven mind. Allow for what needs to die to die, and give birth to what needs to be born.

Wishing you a powerful spring season!

Namaste,

Monique

Great Idea! Now What?

March 5, 2016

Been in this place before? You take a huge leap of faith and the rath of fear strikes hard?

“What in the hell did I just do?”

“Who am I to think that I can do this?”

“What if I fail?”

Yes, all these questions and many more have poured through my brain over the last month. As positive as I believe I am (it just happens to be my #3 top strength according to Strengths Finder), how could I not expect to have these kinds of thoughts?

I guess it was no coincidence that the day I decide to write this blog (about fear) I receive the Entrepreneur Magazine with the cover article, “Be Fearless Without Being Scared.” It caught my attention.

Even better was the Editor’s note (Amy C. Cosper) on her very real fearful experience of having an exciting new venture idea and scoring a meeting with a hard to reach VC. Here’s a blurb…

(After confirming the meeting) “Instantly, my veins felt colder. My idea no longer felt exciting. It felt like a horrible secret I’d have to real—like a think I’d take out of my briefcase and say, in my most pathetic voice, ‘This is all I have.’”

Whoa. I can relate with that! With Ideation as my #4 top talent I have no shortage of ideas (constantly!!). Although I want to move at the speed of light, it’s not always easy to pick the right idea, trust in it, and ship it! In our “stick to one idea” world of today, it’s not easy to have so many ideas without talking yourself out of all of them.

So, you may be asking… “What are you doing about the fear?”

Well, two things…

  1. I’m using my fearful voice as a mechanism to do be aware, and to do my homework. After all, fear just wants to protect us from failure. So, I’ll take a thought like, “Who are you to think you can do this?” and I’ll do my very best to find the evidence that I need to quiet that fear and replace it with some self-love and respect. If I’ve found some truth to the fear, then I address it. “What if I fail?” is a great one, because there truly is the chance that I could, indeed, fail! That can be the case for anyone tackling any new project. So, what will my response be if I do fail? I actually think it’s a good question to answer.
  2. I’m using my fearful voice as motivation. At the end of the day I would rather have tried and failed than to not have tried at all. That’s a quote, isn’t it? Well, the good thing for me is that one of the ways my Positivity strength works is to shift me out of negativity very quickly, allowing me to always see a silver lining. Amy also wrote this, and I couldn’t agree with her more:

“Fear sucks. It really does. It is a raw emotion that stands between you and your greatness. It invades your body and makes you forget you ever had strength. And it is the reason you didn’t Didn’t chase that dream. Didn’t take the risk. Didn’t give yourself the opportunity to see what’s on the other side: the dream achieved, the risk rewarded, the person who survived jumping in and now understands the value of taking a leap in the first place.  

#Truth.

And it was Amy’s truth. She didn’t have a good meeting with that VC. She blew it. Fear killed it. BUT, what an incredible failure to learn from. I’m inspired by her honesty and vulnerability.

Yep. I’ve had a few fearful moments since I left my “safe world” in late January. And, well, it’s just par for the course!

So, Now What?

As most of you know, my work is in the space of leadership and well-being, and my blog and newsletter content won’t change. In fact, I want you to know how committed I am to that world, and I’m uber passionate about all of it. In fact, this year you’ll see me broaden my topics and trainings in order to truly put out all that I want to share and how I want to make a difference with my work.

In the same breathe, now as a solo/mom-preneur, I also plan to blog about how it’s going, and how I’m making it work for me. I’m excited to share this aspect of my life now that I’m living it, and I hope that this content will help many of you who are entrepreneurs, or are inspired to go this route one day soon.

Namaste,

Monique

SHOUT Out that Bad Mood!

December 15, 2015

There’s nothing like the holidays to show us just how human we are. I, myself, just realized we are only a few weeks from that special morning of ritual, family, and lots of shiny objects under the tree! Now I gotta go get those shiny objects! I have to admit that this time does bring me both lots of joy and lots of stress, which can lead to bad moods. Now, I know I’m not alone in this, and the last thing any of us need (or our family and friends!) is a lack of joy. Especially with all the sad and scary news we are hearing daily, what we need to do is really focus on the power that this season of gratitude and spirit has to lift up all of our spirits and shift our focus to all the wonder we live with daily.

So here’s what I do to kick my bad mood to the curb! Try my SHOUT recipe for yourself and let’s get the cheer on!

S is for SILLY! Get Silly! Drop everything you are doing and stomp out that stress immediately. One of the easiest and fastest ways for me to do this is with my daughter, Nia. She just loves to be silly and forget the world we’re in and trade it in for a world of imagination! We love to take silly pictures together!!

H is for HAVEHave Your Pity Party! Have you heard this before? “I don’t have enough time, energy or money for this!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Shout it out to whomever will listen, stay in your jammies and eat ice cream for a while and wallow. Then, shake it off and get going! It really isn’t normal for us to not acknowledge when things don’t feel right and just keep pushing. It’s actually very healthy for our body, mind and soul to consciously choose to sit with how we feel for while before we move forward. Wallow on, but not for too long!

O is for OUT! Get out of your head and your body! This is one of those Tony Robbins strategies I just love and truly believe in. He tells us that in order to change how we feel and get the results we want to experience, we must CHANGE OUR STATE. One of the best ways to do that is to get up and get out! Sometimes I change my state with a hot and/or cold shower or bath, and many times all it takes is a speedy walk in nature.

U is for UNDERSTAND! Understand that it really isn’t that bad! This is about perspective. Our emotions and added stress tend to put us on that elevator that drops us down to the darkness. With some understanding we take that elevator back up to the light and see that we really got it good. This too shall pass.

T is for TRUST…Your Trusted Advisors! Sometimes, nothing works better for me than picking up the phone and calling one of my best buddies to dish to! I feel blessed that I’ve got many trusted advisors in my corner– both family and friends who listen to my silly rants and let me get it all off my chest so I can go get silly! So go shout it out and forget it!

I can honestly say that by using one or all of these simple steps (that may not seem so simple in the moment!), that I can regulate my mood fairly quickly and not let those shady thoughts linger and interfere with what’s really important.

Can one of these work for you? What strategies can help keep that bad mood at bay this busy holiday season?

Would love to hear your shares!

Happy Holidays,

Monique

Last in our series we pondered the choices we make and how we could choose more wisely. Now, let’s take all that we’ve learned so far and focus a bit more closely on our role as leaders. Have you asked yourself recently what kind of leader you want to be? Are you clear on this?

Energy Leadership defines leadership as the ability to inspire and motivate others, as well as yourself, to take life-changing action to create extraordinary results that last.

According to our definition, each and every one of us is a leader. How well you lead depends on your level of consciousness, or energy. Higher levels of anabolic energy are associated with more effective leadership. Anabolic energy is building energy, and whether in the workplace or at home, great leaders build relationships, teams, families, and businesses. Catabolic energy, on the other hand, is destructive, and catabolic leaders destroy and break down everything around them.

Over the course of this series, we’ll take a look at the characteristics of anabolic and catabolic leaders to show you how you can become the leader that you want to be.

Let’s look first at the overall style of the catabolic leader. A catabolic leader manages. The definition of “manage” is “to handle, direct, govern, or control in action or use,” and “to dominate or influence.” Catabolic leaders control others. They tell others what to do, and how to do it. The catabolic leader, in keeping control, keeps the other people in the relationship in a non-powerful position – and then most likely complains to everyone around that “I can’t seem to find good help,” and “no one does things as well as I do.”

An anabolic leader, on the other hand, leads. The definition of “lead” – “to go before or with to show the way,” and “to guide in direction, course, and action” sounds supportive and empowering, and it is. The anabolic leader doesn’t control and doesn’t push people, but instead, inspires them by words, action, and by personal example.

One of our foundation principles states that “Each of us is each greater and wiser than we appear to be.” Anabolic leaders realize this, and thus, don’t feel the need to tell people what to do, as they realize that everyone has their own answers and gifts. Last month we discussed catabolic and anabolic responses to being faced with a task or something to do. When a catabolic leader TELLS or DEMANDS that someone do something, most likely, they will respond catabolically – “I won’t,” “I have to,” or “I need to.” When an anabolic leader REQUESTS that someone do something, or ASKS for someone’s input on a project, they’re much more likely to respond with the anabolic “I want to” or “I choose to.” The more anabolic the leader, the greater the probability of success in the task.

As you continue to interact with those around you, think about how much more of an anabolic leader you could be if you led, instead of managed.

Next time, we’ll look at how to best involve others through our leadership.

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Namaste,

Monique

Are you choosing wisely?

November 12, 2015

Tough Decisions Ahead Road SignIn my last post I introduced you to Catabolic and Anabolic energy, and the idea that how we respond to everything life throws us (consciously or not) falls into one of these energetic “buckets”.

 

In today’s post we’ll take this one step further and look at change and the stress that it can bring us. We’ll also explore how making anabolic choices can dramatically reduce the amount of stress we experience.

 

Ready to choose wisely?

 

Change is inevitable – after all, nothing really stays the same. But in today’s challenging times, it seems like we’re on “uncertainty” overload, never knowing what will happen from one moment to the next. Here today, gone tomorrow – or, at the least, very different tomorrow.

Uncertainty bring stress and confusion, and while most of us would be quick to say that we want less stress and more certainty in our lives, what we really want is less of a stress reaction to what life is throwing our way.

 

We can’t choose what happens to us – but we can choose our responses to the situations we encounter. Let’s take a look at five different responses that people have to stressful situations. As you read through these five responses, you may want to think of a recent stressful event or news that you may have received, and see what your reaction to that event can teach you about how you habitually respond. You may have one type of response at work, and another at home, or you may react differently depending on who else is involved.

 

The first, and unfortunately all too common response to stressful events is to suffer and be a victim to it. People who respond this way don’t take action. Things happen TO them – and though they may complain and be generally miserable about it, they don’t take any steps to do anything. They allow life to control them, instead of the other way around. This way of responding is certainly not recommended, and eventually, it will take its toll on one’s physical and mental health.

 

The second type of response is to accept it the situation, and to get some perspective on it. Someone with this response may say “so what,” or perhaps get some perspective on the situation by asking if it will it matter in a year – or a week – or even in a day.

 

The third way to respond is to actually take steps to change the situation – taking action to bring it to resolution (or at least move toward resolution). This is a very powerful response, and one that many effective leaders employ.

 

The fourth way to respond is to avoid the situation. People responding this way make a decision not to get involved in a situation that they don’t see as concerning them, or upon which they can’t make an impact. For example, someone may choose not to get involved in a dispute going on within their office if it doesn’t directly involve them.

 

The fifth and final way that people generally respond to stress is to alter the experience of the situation. When we look at a situation differently, the experience itself changes. Changing perceptions is probably the most challenging of the responses, because we tend to be stuck in our own interpretations and assumptions about what’s happening, but it is also perhaps the most powerful of all.

 

It’s your world, and you can create it as you wish. Remember, what one person sees as stressful, another person barely notices, or sees as exciting and full of opportunity. How are you going to choose today?

 

It’s you life. Lead it well.

 

Namaste,

Monique

At the beginning of this month we discussed the concept of self-fate and how it can explain why we may not have what we really want. I also promised to dive more deeply into energy, what it really means, and how it can help us achieve self-mastery.

So let’s get started! In this series of blogs you’ll read the words anabolic and catabolic quite a bit when I refer to energy and/or leadership. For all intensive purposes, there are two types of energy: anabolic and catabolic. Anabolic refers to a type of energy that builds, expands, excites, attracts, and motivates. Catabolic refers to a type of energy that breaks things down, repels people and things away from it, and creates sickness, exhaustion, toxicity or disease. This type of energy actually increases the level of cortisol in our bodies, which causes us stress (however that shows up for each of us). Our thoughts, feelings and actions can be defined as energy and will either be anabolic or catabolic (or a bit of both).

Many of us walk around feeling like we have limited choices in many aspects of our lives. Take notice of how many times a day you say the words have to, should, and need to. Whenever you feel like you must do something, you’re in Level 1 energy – you’re a victim to your thoughts or circumstances.

In fact, when you’re faced with a task or something to do, there are five basic ways you can respond, and of them, only one is by full conscious choice.

The five ways of responding are “I won’t,” “I have to,” “I need to,” “I want to,” or “I choose to.”

When you say “I won’t” do something, you’re saying that you have no power, that life happens to you, no matter what you do or believe. You don’t believe that you have a choice. You also don’t really think there’s anything in it for you – so why do it? This type of energy is catabolic.

If you say “I have to,” you’re looking at the short term perspective. You “have to” complete the task in front of you, or else you will experience dire consequences. You feel forced to do it, and that you have very little to no choice. This type of energy also is catabolic.

The third response, “I need to” is a more powerful place to come from. Here, you’re aware of your choices and you seek to find the opportunity in the challenges presented to you. This perspective brings more chance of success, but it’s still catabolic, because you don’t feel like you’re fully at choice.

choose-to-be-happySo these three responses involve either non-action, or action by force. Since you are not energetically bought into a situation, goal, or project, and because you are bringing catabolic energy to it, you are also bringing a recipe for failure. So in these catabolic levels, even though you may think you are choosing to do something, at your core, you chose not to do it, or not to do it well.

The next response, “I want to,” is anabolic, because it indicates that you are mostly at choice. But, “want” still comes from a place of lack.

The most powerful response is “I choose to.” When you respond this way, you feel you have complete choice. There’s a powerful connection between who you are and what you do.

So how do you get to choose to? Simply come from a place of having everything, and choosing to experience, rather than fill a need. Easy? Not at all, but you can choose to try it.

How will you try to CHOOSE this week? I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

It’s your life, lead it well.

Monique