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What exactly is intuition, and as leaders, why should we care if we use it?

As a leader in the making I remember craving time with “them”…those individuals who “had it”… “made it,” and could teach me a thing or two, or simply give me the right answer! Picture the Karate Kid visiting with the ever-mysterious Mr. Miyagi. His wisdom drew you in! “Daniel-san” just knew that somehow he would learn the way from Mr. Miyagi. He did learn “the way,” but along that way he also learned to listen for himself and tap his warrior within.

In leadership we often have to make uninformed, quick decisions. During many of those occasions we also have to jump without a net and trust in our inner knowing. Because of this, leading can sometimes feel very lonely!

How do we know we are doing the right thing? What within us are we tapping to get that wisdom we are seeking, and trust it despite the outcome?

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Over time we can learn to recognize feelings within our body that give us clues about what feels right or wrong. And, when we make enough of those decisions, we can assess whether or not our intuition was correct. But, if our gift for feeling is not yet developed, is not a strength for us, or we simply have not been successful in making those intuitive decisions, then here’s a fun way to try and access your intuition.

Building Your Highest, Wisest Self Archetype!

Perhaps Daniel’sarchetype was a powerful ninja, but for you it can be something entirely different. Take a brief moment to close your eyes and think of that superhero, or all-knowing being that you feel lives within you. You’ll know that it’s the right archetype when you can’t stop smiling, or tingling, or sitting taller and stronger, or speaking louder, etc.

Tapping our visual abilities, especially if we feel that this sense is particularly powerful for us, can be extremely effective. There are many successful leaders and individuals who tap their visual sense every day to access their “genius” or to help manifest their goals and desires. One great resource for these practices is Jack Canfield, renowned speaker, author and coach.

My archetype is a magnificent, larger than life beautiful goddess angel. She is wearing all white, has long shiny hair, and crystal blue eyes. When I imagine her I feel at peace and full of all the answers and wisdom I need. I’m drawn to her and her knowledge and guidance. When I need to make a decision I envision myself diving into a calm blue ocean, through a cave, and up to a brilliant sanctuary where she is always waiting for me. Then, I see myself embody her and deeply feel; knowing fully what my answer is and trusting it.

Part of being a leader is giving ourselves time to make decisions and not always succumbing to the illusion that “We need an answer now!” A wise leader will give him or herself, at a minimum, a few minutes to sit quietly and tap into their “source” to arise at the very best decision. Creating an archetype for yourself is one way to accomplish this!

Here are some questions to ask yourself in beginning to connect with your archetype:

  • What’s the best way for you to access your inner knowing? Which of your senses are the strongest?

  • Can you picture your Highest, Wisest Self?

  • What does he or she look like?

  • What messages does he/she have for you today?

If you’re highly visual, like I am, creating your archetype is a fun and creative way to spark your intuition and feel confident that you can access your Highest, Wisest Self and not have to always get the answers from others.

How do you access your intuition successfully? I’d love to hear your examples and suggestions!

Namaste,

Monique

 

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“When you sit, sit.

When you stand, stand.

Whatever you do, don’t wobble.”

-Dan Millman

You can’t study leadership without paying attention to what’s happening in the NFL these days. Although there is no direct correlation, what’s happening (or not happening!) in the NFL reminds me of the day, a few years ago, when I was Principal for the Day at a local elementary school.

I really had no idea what to expect, and quite honestly, I didn’t think I’d be doing much that day. Boy was I wrong! My experience reminded me of the days when I managed large multi-day conferences. You could barely sleep, because either something you planned or didn’t plan for had to be prepared or dealt with in almost every moment. It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

As Principal, the day began with what seemed to be very regular, daily occurrences…a meeting with Vice Principal to discuss what the day had in store, a budget meeting (which, in and of itself was quite complex and shocking), a few committee meetings for up-coming events, a school walk through, and a few class visits. But then the “unexpected” occurred. Call after call to handle emergencies, issues in classrooms, a security matter, and an almost violent, angry parent. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the intelligence, diligence, compassion, patience, and integrity of this principal. I thought to myself, “She is indeed a CEO in the world of education.” She was present in every matter that she could, especially those that required her presence, direction and communication.

When I think about the challenges the NFL is enduring and its Commissioner as its leader, I ponder how different the conversation would be if he actually “stood up.” In my experience with the school principal, and with so many other courageous leaders I’ve encountered and studied, one trait that I admire so much and which I feel is at the foundation of leadership is their ability to STAND UP in the face of any issue—good or bad. To address the almost violent screaming parent, even if what you have to say to that parent will not appease him or her. In this case, the NFL has many “screaming parents” waiting for the truth; waiting for a voice. In fact, the world is waiting for it.

In leadership you have to OWN IT, not run from it. Nothing in this world of ours—in our experiences as humans— is perfect. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. Perhaps these violence issues are coming into play for the NFL to have them pay real close attention to their values, to do what’s right, and to make those changes that are necessary. If we really want to lead we must STAND UP. I think about this all the time for myself, in wanting to be the very best leader that I can, and I am always finding ways to stand taller and to improve.

In looking at yourself as a leader, are you hiding at all? Are you running away from challenges or very serious issues? Where can you stand up or stand taller?

Some things can and should be delegated, but others should not. True leadership is one of them!

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

It’s Your Life. Lead it Well.

Monique

We did it! We made it to the final week of Summer of Well-Being! As I type these words, though, I’m reminded of one of my favorite song lyrics by Kenny Loggins (yes, I’m dating myself a bit!):

This is it! Make no mistake where you are! What’s left to provide?
You think that maybe it’s over .
Not if you don’t want it to be!

Here’s what I know for sure…our well-being is a daily, life-long process. And more than just a process, it’s a decision. A decision we make every moment of every day.

I’ve so enjoyed bringing you on this journey during our summer. Please know that the journey is not over! On Thursday, you’ll hear from our final guest blogger, Michelle Alva, who is an Energy Healer at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach. She’s going to wrap up our awareness program very nicely. And, I’m so excited to announce that on September 1st I’ll be sharing with you a way that you can continue on this journey with me and with many others, as I launch my new 6-Month Group Coaching Program: Journey to Well-Being! I can’t wait to share this opportunity with you, and I hope you will consider remaining in our community and growing in your well-being every day.

Today I want to write about one of my favorite things…creativity! One of my top 5 talent themes as defined by Gallup’s Strengths Finder is Ideation. I just LOVE ideating and getting new ideas going and growing! Because it’s one of my strengths, I know that leading with this strength each day, even if only a little bit, gives me so much energy! But even if it’s not a natural talent for you doesn’t mean that you can’t employ it to boost your well-being. They say that if we spend too much time nourishing our logical reasoning, we in fact starve our non-linear, right-brain functions. As a result, we only half live!! bigstock-Thinking-Smiling-Woman-With-Qu-46191085

Research shows that stimulating our right-brain helps to relax us, lower our blood pressure, reduce migraine headaches, and generally increase our harmony. Of course, this can be attained via activities such as mindfulness, or guided visualizations, which we’ve covered during Summer of Well-Being. They help to quiet the rational “thinking” brain. However, there are other ways to spark the right-brain and transform the way we think, learn and operate.

As an example, just this month our team had a retreat that was based in ideation. We wanted to get outside of our boxes and come up with as many innovative ideas as possible (without being logical!), so we used Improv techniques to help us do this. Not only was it a lot of fun, but it truly helped us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, which often is a requirement to operating in a right-brain kinda way! If you had a chance to view our Summer of Well-Being guest blogger last week, David Suarez, then you know what I’m talking about.

To take it one step further, I want to share five tips for thinking laterally, as Edward DeBono, Ph.D., calls it, or as I like to call it, “Sideways” thinking!

1. Get Random Input: Instead of relying only on what we think or know, we can take our question somewhere else for input, like a mall, or museum, or neighbor, or random book, etc. DeBono says that “A random input from outside can serve to disrupt the old pattern and allow it to reform in a new way.”

2. Quotas: By imagining that there is only one right answer, we limit ourselves. By using quotas, we challenge ourselves to come up with a minimum number of alternatives. We can take this deeper by setting a deadline.

3. Rotation of Attention: Sometimes when we try to solve a problem we focus on just one aspect of the problem, thereby limiting our solutions. One example is losing weight. Perhaps we only focus on the diet and the specific food item we need to reduce or eliminate. Another way to look at it, thereby sparking our right-brain, is to make each factor in the problem (or question) the focus of attention and learn as much as we can by examining it as if it were the only factor in the problem.

4. Reversals: Turn a situation completely upside down! By doing this we are changing our point of view. For example, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what it is we want, but it may be interesting to ask ourselves what it is we don’t want! To determine what well-being is for us, we may learn a lot by asking ourselves what we know for sure that it is not.

5. Cross Fertilization:  It’s natural to avoid those opinions that are not like ours. It’s often uncomfortable to think and feel in a way that’s not natural to us. However, by forcing ourselves to get input from those who often see and feel things differently than we do, we are allowing ourselves to expand the possibilities. This is especially useful when we are stuck and can’t see a way out. When it comes to our health and decisions that we may need to make, this can be a great solution and opportunity.

When it comes to our well-being, sometimes we just need to get a little sideways! For some of us, activating our creative side can juice us up with lots of energy that we can apply to various aspects of our lives, and it can transform our relationships and environments by allowing us to be more open. And for others, thinking laterally can really help us make some important life and health decisions.

Give it a try and let me know what it does for you!

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Monique

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I can almost recite by memory those times I pushed so hard to make something happen, but it didn’t. No matter how much energy, positive self-talk, preparation, or confidence I backed it up with, it just wasn’t “meant to be,” I told myself. Been there? I bet you have! So, the question, then, for most high-achievers is:

 “But, if I don’t try hard, how will I accomplish?”

It’s a good question. But, if you look deep past the question, you’ll notice that it is based in a myth that has been passed down from generation to generation which has us believe:

The only way you will be successful is if you die trying!

Don’t fool yourself any longer. In fact, you’ll experience a longer, healthier, happier and more successful life if you begin training yourself to believe otherwise.

Now, I’m not saying not to try, and not to work hard. Please do. But don’t do it blindly. Consider this:

The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.

Translation:

I am a flower; success is the bee. I don’t need to chase it. In fact, if I do, it may sting me!

When I bloom, authentically, where I am planted, success will find it’s way to me.

Not easy, I know. This translation is based on two principles:

Trust in your authentic self.

Trust in who you were meant to be.

So, if you want to try really hard, I’d love for you to do it in this fashion:

  1. Know thyself! Have you done what’s in your power (worked hard!) to get to know YOU? Who you are at your core? What makes you unique? What lights you up and makes you jump out of your bed each morning?

  2. Allow yourself to blossom! Know it. Own it. And, yes, WORK IT slowly each day, and head down that path. The path may shift, or lead you to unexpected places. Keep knowing and understanding and walking toward what feels right and what feels true. And, if every cell in your being tells you that you’re on point, well give it all you’ve got and go for it. Then, I hope you TRY DOUBLY HARD for it!

  3. Trust and allow. This is the most difficult step, I believe. We can learn and develop and take actions toward our purpose, but when we feel as though we have to push desperately, then fear has come into play and we may get stung! Believe me, when we are off our authentic path we will know it—see it, feel it, hear it. But oftentimes we ignore it.

I remember a time when this was true for me. Many, many years ago I was in a job that I absolutely loved. I was applying the very best of me, helping others, and learning so much at the same time. I was definitely growing and leaning toward what I knew was ME! I wanted more and kept heading in that direction. In fact, I never felt like I was ever trying (a great sign!)

However, as has and will happen to many of us, something gets in the way that we may not have any control over. In fact, asking “Why” is futile, because some things do happen for our highest good and we may never have our answer. At this point, fear crept in, and I desperately began seeking other opportunities elsewhere—ones that did not align with who I was and who I knew in my bones I needed to become. The search threw me off and I became who I thought I “needed to be” just to get out. Needless to say, it did not turn out as I had expected, which led to many painful experiences and rejections which caused me to back track and re-build “me”. Eventually, my internal compass led me back on track, and I began to trust. The rest, as they say, is history.

I love saving others unwanted pain. In fact, I’d love nothing more than to help you confidently walk in the direction that you are meant to go.

Seek it. Align with it. Trust in what is and what it will be. And, bloom, baby, bloom! Bring on those bees and yummy nectar!

Is there a time you can clearly remember when you tried so hard and knew it was futile? I’d love to hear from you.

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Namaste, Monique

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The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. —Tao Te Ching

In this hustle and bustle world we live in, we trick ourselves into thinking that we can only achieve success if we are working on and conquering BIG goals. Worst, sometimes we only set these BIG GOALS because we are competing with others to win, or doing what we feel we “should” be doing in order to move up, “make it,” etc.

A classic example every year in January is what? GETTING IN SHAPE! How many times has the new year rolled around to find us all racing to find the newest exercise or diet craze in order to FINALLY get to our ideal weight or body image? It’s a pattern that is hard to break because it may be coming from a place of good intention and some peer pressure, but in the end we are creating a pattern for ourselves of ultimately failing. And when we fail over and over again (in anything) what we are creating is shame. And, why wait until January to start getting in shape, right?

When I was a young girl I kept telling myself that “Good things come in small packages!” I was always (and still am!) the shortest in the group, and it wasn’t always easy. But, through affirmations and slowly building my self-confidence and realizing my value, it never truly became an issue for me. And, the benefit I reap, is my collection of fine stilettos!

In the same, how could this phrase—Good things come in small packages— apply to you and your ability to achieve your goals in a lasting way? The concept of Kaizen tells us that small and steady is much better and more effective.  In fact, through Kaizen we learn that the smallest possible step is the best one to begin with. Like “stupid small!” Need more reassurance? Here’s a great article by the creator of Dilbert who feels big goals are stupid!

In my daily practices I am dedicated to the Kaizen way. Not only do I believe in it, but it just feels better! So what does it look like? It can look like this…

  • Instead of running for one mile every day (especially if you never run!), try walking a mile first.

  • Instead of eating three servings of spinach, or broccoli a day (especially if you hate them!), try drinking 1 green juice a day (pick a green you like and mix it with yummy fruit!).

  • Instead of becoming a great communicator over night, start with one nerve-wrecking conversation!

Get me?

What happens over time is that you are able to accomplish these smaller goals more consistently and then build upon them. If you are walking up steps today, in a few days you actually may be able to run up them (as I have noticed for me). If you are able to take down a green drink a day, your body may start craving more greens or other veggies because you feel better. And, when you do better than you think with that one conversation, you’ll find yourself having many more!

I’m not knocking those individuals who may truly benefit from intense goal achievement, or intensity in general. Do what works for you and empowers you to feel successful and sustain your success. If that has not worked for you in the past, give this a shot and see how GREAT things can manifest through SMALL actions. And, mostly, don’t fool yourself in believing that these actions are not impactful. For one small drop can create magnificent waves.

Want to give this a fun, easy try?  Here’s a great place to start. K.I.S.S! (Keep It Simple Silly!)

Wishing you a life well led, Monique

 

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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 brings 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 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 life, and you can create it and lead it as you wish. Remember, what one person sees as stressful, another person barely notices, or sees as exciting and full of opportunity.

So, when life throws you lemons, how will you choose? 

Please comment below and keep the conversation going!

Namaste,

Monique

 

 

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A wonderful conversation I had this week with a fellow coach inspired today’s post. I think we can all relate to these situations, whether we are the offenders or the victims.

Let’s start here …

Ever have a vision of that perfect workday — when you have your list of things to accomplish and it all goes off without a hitch? Hopefully, you have many of those days when you are in the flow and getting things done. But, one fine day you are thrown that “monkey” – that emergency or problem that belongs to someone else and is thrown on you to “fix now” (or the world will end)!

Been there, yes?

This can happen due to a lack of planning, strategy, understanding, or commitment of the other person. You may have someone in your organization who does often, causing you to tackle other people’s emergencies, which subtracts that precious time you need to actually do your own work and feel a sense of accomplishment.

If you are leading others, it may be wise for you to evaluate how you operate and identify if this is something that you tend to do. This habit is often unconscious and can be habitual. However, I’d suspect that if you don’t appreciate others throwing monkeys on your back, you probably don’t want to be doing it to others you are leading or working with. This behavior, if done consistently, can create a hostile or resentful work environment.

If you are on the receiving end, you may be having difficulty preventing this from happening. It’s important to be a team player, and sometimes we all have to take one for the team, even if it’s not our job. But, if you’re feeling like a zookeeper lately, it’s time to do something about those monkeys and speak up!

Here are 5 steps you can take to send those monkeys where they belong!

  1. Keep a daily list of your priorities – especially those that make or break the business. You were hired for a reason. Make sure you know how important your work is so that others know as well.
  2. Don’t add fuel to the fire! Usually, when the monkeys are thrown to you they come with anxiety and a sense of desperation. When working with individuals (especially those who lead us!), it’s easy to take on their anxiety and not see the forest among the trees. Breathe. Remain calm. Don’t mirror back the emotions you see and feel. Instead, create a space of serenity around the issue. You can help be the water that puts out the fire by bringing clarity and reality to the situation. Ask: Is this truly an emergency? Is it really needed NOW? Am I the right person to fix this? Why did this happen and how can we prevent it from happening again?
  3. Place that monkey in its cage! Create a holding space for the issue until that safe space has been created to understand what the real story is. In the heat of the moment, our tendency can be to drop everything and “handle this now!” But, what happens when this is a pattern? Instead of producing quality work and moving forward, we are simply handling “stuff” and moving nowhere.
  4. Have that difficult conversation. Now that you (a) know your priorities, (b) stayed calm, and (c) took time to understand the situation fully and its importance (or not), now it’s time to (d) muster up the courage to address the situation or pattern. Helping your supervisor, colleague or subordinate understand the value of your position and work. Additionally, if the behavior is a pattern, it’s uber important to help the other person (won’t happen overnight) understand that. They may not be receiving any feedback at all and feel it’s okay to throw their work onto others. Prepare a script to help you practice. A simple start to the conversation could go like this:

    “Sally, I would love to help you solve this problem. I have these three priorities I’m tending to, and as you are aware, X is due today. I’m happy to dedicate some time to this at the end of the week, or speak to you further to help you figure out how best to solve it. Sound good?”

  5. Build a fence! It’s time to be proactive. Part of being a great team player and self-leader is being aware of issues or situations that can potentially become someone’s monkey, or your monkey! Understand what your team members and your supervisor(s) are/is working on that may boomerang toward you. If you’re not caught off guard you’ll be better prepared to manage through it.  You also may be able to help others be proactive.

Have a monkey you’d like to share? I’d love to help you think it through.

Comment below.

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique