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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

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4 Ways to Achieve FLOW Through Results-Oriented Operating

 

In the world of conscious living and leading it is understood that when we are not able to “flow”– to focus and be “on”– we are not fully connected with, or aligned with the universe (or “source”). Have you felt those moments, when you’re  not fully present, or have a difficult time motivating yourself to get something started or finished? It happens to all of us, and one way to look at your development as a leader is to be very conscious of those moments where there is a disconnect, and through awareness and action, make the necessary shifts in order to get back to flow (and achieving!). As leaders we cannot make things happen and connect with and lead others without the ability to do this. I like to call it–Lighting it Up!

Just last week I attended our Center for Leadership’s Lecture Series, where distinguished global executive Jorge P. Montoya, who among other notable positions and appointments was the President for Proctor & Gamble Latin America, spoke on “Really, The Only Thing That Counts Is Delivering Results.” As a leadership trainer and coach, the title intrigued me quite a bit, and I attended, mostly, to ensure that Mr. Montoya would at some point discuss the human side of leadership and its importance to the bottom line. I’m happy to say that he did do that! In fact, he encouraged those present to learn, learn and continue learning; keep a positive attitude; cultivate and practice humbleness and servant leadership, and infuse love and passion in your job.

However, I respect where he started the conversation, and it reminds me of the idea of flow and being “on”. If you have your own business, or work for a business, there is no escaping the bottom line. Businesses must be profitable, and it does take an enormous amount of time, energy and focus to both reach and surpass profitability, and do it in a way that will support and grow those who work for you, or those with whom you work. Ideally, when business is good, so too is the livelihood of those connected to or surrounded by those businesses. We want business to thrive, right? So, igniting your flow from a very results-focused, bottom line-oriented perspective could certainly do the trick for both you and your business/company you work for.

Although Mr. Montoya’s presentation was mostly directed to the future leaders who were present, I believe his message is crucial for those of us who are in leadership positions, and who want to have more moments where we are Lighting it Up! In fact, what I share with you below has broader meaning. You can apply it to how you lead your finances, for example.

Here’s his prescription:

Principle:

Delivering Consistent Results is the Only Thing That Counts! Generally, you can do this via:

  • Flawless execution of a good strategy

  • Using your leadership to deliver results (through others!)

  • Build the mindset very early on to develop operating discipline

  • Design clear, stretch goals for yourself

Executing the Principle via the 4 F’s:

  1. Focus – Know where to play. Choose 2-3 core competencies. Less is better!
  2. Forcing Choices – Know how to win. Choose 2-3 choices or “weapons” to beat the competition. Choose what not to do. Don’t fix every problem; feed the strong and starve the weak.
  3. Frugality – Be brutal on costs, permanently! Develop a permanent scarcity mentality. Free spending sickness is contagious and can get out of control.
  4. Foresee a Crisis – Anticipate volatility/crisis and competitive moves. Change is constant and inevitable; the adaptive will survive and the proactive will win.

In applying it to my own life and leadership, I can see how those moments when I am not Lighting it Up are in fact times when I’m working on too many things at once. That “focus”, or “forced choice” was not present. In fact, this concept aligns directly with strengths-based leadership–feed what you’re strong at, and starve (or delegate!) what you’re weak at!

In true “Learner” fashion (my #1 strength), I’m always happy to learn and share these learnings with you!

Where in your life or in your leadership can you apply Mr. Montoya’s 4 F’s strategy?

How can you apply this strategy to get back into a flow and Light Things Up?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and examples. Write me a line below.

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

Kick Up Some Dirt

February 2, 2011

 

As a life-long dancer the first thing I picture when I hear the words “Kick up some dirt” is a person dancing wildly, no holds barred, on the beach, or at a backyard hoedown. Yet this month (and everyday, really) it can hold another meaning, one that signifies resilience, persistence and laser focus (kinda sounds like a dancer’s life as well!).

With still so much energy behind this new year–2011–and all of the ideas, excitement and light with which we christened it still tangible, I am questioning what it truly takes to get to where we want to go… to light up and deliver results.

What does it take and why don’t we always follow through?

In coaching with others about Energy Leadership we talk quite a bit about our default tendencies–those thoughts, beliefs, actions (and non-actions!) that we have either learned over time, or created to protect ourselves, which over the years have become entrenched into our psyche. Many times, unless we really look for them we don’t know they exist and that they hold us back. However, if we are the  introspective kind and have a good idea as to what and why we do the things we do, I would dare to claim that we have the high likelihood of really creating a breakthrough if we are truly committed to making it happen.

So, how do we build this commitment?

Yes, it is true that less than half of all individuals who create a new year’s resolution break them by month six, but I’m more interested in studying the smaller percentage who are “Fireworks,”  as Katy Perry would describe them, because not only do they NOT break their resolutions, they reach them, BIG TIME!  I love it in Katie Perry’s song, Firework, when she sings “Make them go Ah, Ah, Ah as you shoot across the sky!”

When others marvel at what you’ve accomplished (Ahhh!),

and even better,when YOU marvel at what you’ve accomplished,

you’ve done something not many do often.

Perhaps a quick poll can help shed some more light.

What would you say you hear more often from yourself and others?

  1. “Gosh, I just haven’t had the time or energy to work on my goal. Maybe tomorrow!”  – OR-

  2. “You’re never going to believe what I accomplished today! It took all the energy I could find, but I’ve got a fire in my belly!”

I’d love to get your feedback on this… a quick pulse of what you’re seeing out there. Please check in.

So, back to finding that commitment, as well as resiliency, persistence and laser focus.

What does it take to master them?

Consider this 5 step plan of action to get you on your way:

  1. Dig Deep.
    If you haven’t spent much time looking within start now. Try it for one week. Simply keep a journal to track your actions or non-actions and the possible reasons behind them. What are your thoughts, beliefs, and fears related to them? What fires you up or waters you down and why? I guarantee you’ll know yourself better than you did 7 days prior.  

    Jack Canfield uses a great visual to signify all of those “default tendencies” we tend not to see. Imagine the tip of an iceberg above the ocean, now go below the ocean in your mind to uncover the larger part of the iceberg…the part we don’t see that’s at least 5 times the size of the tip. This part underwater, what we don’t see, is likened to our subconscious. Let’s begin chipping away at that massive obstruction and start living more consciously!

     

  2. Identify ONE Breakthrough Goal.
    A Breakthrough goal is something that you normally would avoid committing to. It doesn’t have to be BIG or complicated, but something that will require you to get out of your box. Pick only one; this is key. Don’t set out to change your entire life. All Breakthrough goals are made up of many smaller goals, so consider creating a mind map of your Breakthrough goal. Pick that first small step to focus on and simply keep the larger goal where you can see it daily, off in the distance.
  3. Create a NEW Default. We evolve just as time evolves. Yes, habits are hard to break, but PLEASE break them if they are not doing you any good! You have the power to create a new habit…a new default tendency, one that will move you forward and will not define you. How do you create a new habit or routine? Bring it up from your subconscious to your conscious. Acknowledge it. Speak to it. Thank it for its service. Tell it it’s time to go bye, bye! Define your NEW habit, and bring it to life by giving it your undivided attention. LOVE on it!

    My quote for the day from my Ask and it is Given card deck applies nicely to this: “Like learning to understand the basics of mathematics and then having the successful experience of understanding the results of their applications, once you have a formula for understanding your world that is always consistent, it will yield consistent results for you.
     

     

  4. Kick up some dirt! Yes, this is the hard part. You know where you want to go, you’ve dug out the unwanted from deep down and placed lots of conscious energy around your new normal. Now the work begins. Kick up some dirt every day. Would you go today without brushing your teeth or taking a shower (Ok…maybe you shouldn’t answer this. LOL!)? Your new normal needs to become a priority, just like your other routine activities. Define a way to hold yourself accountable.

    Stephen Covey helps to lead the way in this thought via Habit 3 of this 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…Put First Things First! Make this a FIRST in your life to watch it truly become a new default tendency. This new habit will take you from dependence to independence, or self-mastery.

  5. Kick up the celebration! Revel in your accomplishments daily. Share your success, even if it’s only with your pet, the best of listeners! No goal achieved is too small. Creating an environment of excitement and joy helps to expand your energy field, therefore attracting back to you more of what you want and need.

Revel in the newness. The new year, new default tendencies, new successes.

Have fun with the process,

Monique

Where do you want to go?

I bet you can remember a time when the most unlikely stranger made you go “hmm.” That’s right, he or she flew into your life just as quickly as he/she left, but definitely made an imprint. That’s the kind of feeling you get when reading The Energy Bus. The supporting character, “Joy” a bus driver, has been the miracle saver for the main character, George, whose life is in shambles. He is about to lose both his job and marriage, and has zero energy to do anything about it.

Meeting Joy was no accident, as George had no choice but to ride the bus to work when his car broke down and his wife refused to stop changing her plans to help him. What he didn’t know was that this “unfortunate situation” would be his life-changing opportunity. He didn’t just board any bus; he boarded the “Energy Bus.”

Joy is like the coach that everyone wants and needs; that friend you’d like to have in your pocket every time you need to be reminded of how truly great you have it and how much better things can be if you get out of our own way. Joy’s life purpose is evident; to get her passengers to embrace their lives, choose to live energetically, and bring others along for the ride. She does this by sharing her 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life with Positive Energy. Not only does Joy share these rules, but she has her “students” practice them with daily exercises, and holds them accountable to boot! Yep, she’s a coach all right!

After a few days of riding Joy’s bus, George’s energy had shifted dramatically. Those around him began to see a difference, he felt a difference, and having to ride a bus wasn’t so bad after all.

This book is an easy and quick read, but its message is timely and timeless.
Here are the first five rules with short take-a-ways:

1. You are the driver of your bus.

  • Why would you let other people and situations manage and/or manipulate your energy? Your energy is your “bus;” now steer it to where you want it to go!

2. Desire, Vision & Focus Move Your Bus in the Right Direction

  • How will you get to where you need to go without a map, a plan or support? Chart your course, get excited about it, and keep moving!

3. Fuel Your Ride with Positive Energy

  • Think of those people, activities, foods, and thoughts who/that energize you and those who/that drain you. Get the picture? Only you can fuel your ride with positive energy. Make smart choices.

4. Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead

  • Positive energy is magnetic. Don’t keep your purpose and excitement to yourself. If you are authentic, others will want to match your energy and come along for the ride.

5. Don’t Waste Your Energy on Those Who Don’t Get on Your Bus

  • Yep. This is an important one. Negative energy will always be around, but where will you be? Stay away from the water cooler, folks!

I’ll close this post by sharing a few other bits of info Joy offered to George along the way, which made me go “hmm.” Maybe they will make you think a bit as well.

  • Did you know that most people who die pass on a Monday morning at 9 am? We can infer that a lot of people prefer to give up on their lives than go to work! Scary thought.What should your thoughts be aligned with on Monday mornings?
  • At the end of a long game golfers usually forget all of the bad shots they made and remember the one great shot they had that day. The thought and feeling they get when thinking about that particular shot makes them want to play again and again; this is why so many people get addicted to golf. I’ll have to ask my golfer friends if they agree with this one, but it sounds on par to me (hee hee!)What would happen if you would focus each day on the one great thing that you experienced? Would you be more energized to go into the next day and get excited about the opportunities that you know will come your way?

Food for thought.

I am on a wonderful Energy Bus this month; on a road trip with my family. It has been a lot of fun so far, and in those not-so-fun, stressful moments, I remember the 5 rules I shared with you above, and I remind myself that I have to be my own “Joy” and stay in charge of my bus.

Cheers to the rest of the ride!

May you all enjoy an energized week,

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.