May 23, 2016
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.
“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:
- Relationship Building
- 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 McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
November 19, 2014
This one’s for the Ladies!
I remember when I was disengaged from work and life. It felt a bit like depression, although I did a pretty good job of keeping it together. Perhaps you’ve been there too? See, as a busy mom and professional, I always felt like I couldn’t relax. I had to keep moving, building, growing, succeeding. Feel me? Even worst, I felt I had to keep it all inside. Heaven forbid if someone could see how I really felt. That I didn’t feel successful. That I didn’t know who the heck I was anymore. That I just didn’t care. I know you feel me, and you want to know why? More and more I get calls from professionals and executives who feel the same! They want to be engaged again, they want to feel successful, and they want to lead purposed-driven careers and lives. I love working with these amazing people, because I’ve been there, and through inside-out work, I found my way.
In my work as a Gallup Strengths Coach I love reading Gallup‘s research on leadership and wellbeing (no surprise there, right?!). I was so thrilled to read the following, and this is why I want to celebrate all of you amazing women professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs.
Of the 11 million men and women around the world who have taken StrengthsFinder, men and women share the same four most frequently named top five strengths: Responsibility, Learner, Achiever, and Relator. (We’re not that different. Ok, that’s cool. Keep reading.)
Although many men have Empathy as a strength, women tend to have it in their top 5! (Ladies, it keeps getting better!)
And, women tend to lead with Responsibility. (Hmm…Empathy, Responsibility…I’m seeing a pattern here!) The article asked this question: Could this be because we were raised differently in our respective gender roles, or because our expectations for work or our definitions of a life well lived differed from the outset? What do you think? What’s true for you?
Here’s the kicker, Ladies! When Gallup analyzed its five largest data sets, including World Poll data from 160 countries around the world, employee engagement, and wellbeing data right here in the U.S., they found that men and women alike define wellbeing or “a life well lived” as five elements, consisting of the following:
• Their purpose for what they do every day
• Their financial wellbeing
• Their physical wellbeing
• Their community wellbeing
• Their social interactions
When they broke down the data by gender, they found that women are FOUR PERCENTAGE POINTS more likely than men to be thriving in their strengths and wellbeing; that’s significantly higher!
I’m not a scientist or researcher, and I’m not claiming that there is a direct link to higher wellbeing, but it excites me to think that leading with strengths like empathy and responsibility could contribute to our increased wellbeing. It makes me curious. In fact, whether these strengths are in your top 5 or not, we know that THEY ARE critical skills for leaders, regardless. I don’t know about you, but as a woman who’s been hearing for years (especially from other women who are hard on themselves) that we do too much and we can’t handle the pressure or we get too emotional, this is re-affirming. Here’s a bigger question when we look at leadership today, why is leading with empathy and responsibility important? Well, simply put, knowing that you work with leaders who care for your whole-life wellbeing, not just bottom line results, makes a huge difference in employee productivity and engagement. And we know from Gallup that what employees want most from their leaders (in this order) is: Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope.
Ladies, it’s time we celebrate our natural tendencies to really care for others, while still being able to achieve great success in our careers and lives.
So, are women doing a better job at embracing their natural strengths? Are we understanding that we can’t do it all – all the time and still be proud of who we are and what we accomplish on a daily basis? According to Marian N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott, authors of Standing in the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women,
“…Now the emphasis has shifted to the changing contours of life—choices and trade-offs, the forces that influence decisions, and the strategies successful women use for constructing meaningful and fulfilling careers. Traditional career paths can seem clear but also unsatisfying or impossible to travel, while new paths that allow for a full and rich life are complex, uncertain, and ambiguous.”
Sarah Kauss, founder of S’well, which makes reusable insulated steal water bottles says:
“You have to be comfortable with not doing everything.”
Anita Krohn Traaseth, a mother of three, blogger, author, and the CEO of Innovation Norway, shares:
“It’s one of my father’s favorite expressions and has saved me from being an unnecessary perfectionist…If you don’t take care of yourself, set your own standards, decide when enough is enough, learn to balance and rest, you’ll have limited success. I learned that life was not about striving for perfection.”
So how in the h$ll do you balance?
I truly believe in moment-to-moment, intentional “balance”. In knowing myself, my strengths, my vision for my work and life, my priorities, and daily powerful decision making. I always ask myself each morning, “What’s important today, and what needs to come first?” I also have to remind myself that some things JUST ARE NOT IMPORTANT (to me!) AND ARE A WASTE OF TIME! We all have time and energy wasters that are not aligned with our values, strengths and vision! We have to know what those are.
My good friend, Luly B, speaks to this idea of Balance in her book and new audio series, Balance is Bull$hit: 7 Steps to Boycotting Balance and Living Life on Your Terms. Because women need to celebrate themselves and each other, I want to celebrate her success and determination in creating this amazing product, which helps her live her vision each day of helping moms lead successful lives through boycotting balance! You definitely want to check it out and share it with those moms you know need it! Luly’s voice is authentic and empowering.
Keep leading with your heart ladies! Our wellbeing is better because of it (at least I believe so!).
It’s your life. Lead it well….Monique
March 19, 2014
Need to bring a little green luck into your work life? There’s no better time than this week to help you find that ever-evading pot of gold!
Feng Shui is one of my favorite topics and areas of study. At its essence, when you are practicing Feng Shui you are bringing your environment into balance and ensuring that the energy around you is flowing and not stagnant or “stuck.”
Feeling stuck at work? This may be a sign that putting into place some meaningful and easy “cures” is needed, helping you get back into the flow of productivity, creativity, and maybe even some new clients, or even a promotion!
Although it may sound light or “out there,” Feng Shui is a respected ancient practice, both in the east and the west. In fact, many businesses (even architects designing new buildings, work spaces or corporate parks) consult with Feng Shui practitioners to create balanced and vibrant work environments. With this practice not only do you see the difference, but you really feel it.
Here are some “green” tips to get that energy and those ideas flowing again. When I think of Ireland, I think of expansive lands, dirt and trees, mountains, four-leaf clovers, and of course, the color green! Here’s the most important tip of all: When you enhance your space, do it with intention. Without focus and meaning, it won’t do a damn thing!
*The color green represents growth and expansion — think of seedlings beginning to sprout. So, one of the best things to do is to bring live plants into your workspace. Not only will they increase the amount of oxygen in your environment (keeping you alert!), but they also represent the growth of things — money, recognition, health, relationships, etc. Place it in the area of your space you want to enhance. You can see a western Feng Shui map, or Bagua, here.
Important: With a western Bagua, you are not using actual compass directions, but you are placing the map at the entrance (door) of your office and/or workspace, with “north” facing directly across from you.
*This idea of growth and expansion can also be enhanced by items or images of things that are tree-like … like paper, bamboo, wood, tall and rectangular-shapes, or pictures of the sun rising or mountains in the spring time with lots of vibrant green grass! If you really have a new idea you want to launch, make sure to place that plant or item in the Creativity quadrant of your office space.
*Bring in that pot of gold! If it’s more money you want to attract, or the feeling of prosperity and abundance, bring in some shiny coins or dollar bills (or pictures of what wealth represents to you) and place it in your Wealth corner. And yes, definitely pictures of four-leaf clovers, or the real thing, if you can get your hands on one!
*Want to feel revitalized? Need to drive up your feeling of health and well-being? How about a comfy green pillow or pashmina? These will do the job, especially in the Health quadrant of your office!
Have fun with these tips! Feel free to share how your enhancements work for you. I’d love to hear from you.
Until then …
May your troubles be less,
And your blessings be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.
It’s your life. Lead it well.
Namaste … Monique