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4 Ways to Embrace that Goal – Life Well LED

Last week, we talked about our New Year Resolutions and whether or not we were over-valuing them. This week, I want to share some tips on how to EMBRACE THAT GOAL that you are not choosing, but your boss is assigning to you! Many of you are fortunate enough to have a supervisor/leader who understands your strengths and let’s you decide the who, what, when, where and how of your days. If you do have this luxury, chances are you know exactly what’s expected of you, what you have to produce at year’s end in order to be successful in your role, and you carefully craft your goals in a way that will get you to that pot of gold in an energizing and engaged fashion. (If not, we should talk!!)

For those of you who may not be as fortunate to work for a leader who provides you with this opportunity, it’s going to take some personal leadership and self re-direction to appease both your boss and yourself. Here are some tips to consider and try out immediately:

1. Pay close attention to your inner chatter.

When that goal is assigned to you (and you freak out!), immediately become aware of what you’re saying to yourself about it. Your inner dialogue will provide you with clues about the fastest way to shift your thoughts and get busy succeeding. For example, let’s say Charlie finds himself thinking, “I’ve never led a team of so many individuals to coordinate such a large-scale project. I’m not a project manager!” When we lead with strengths we learn to shift our thoughts toward what the possibilities of our succeeding can look like. So after you capture your inner chatter, you want to do the following…

2. Pick a strengths-based NEW thought.

In the example above, Charlie can pause, understand that his inner chatter is putting him into a fear-based place where success doesn’t live, and have this expanded dialogue with himself, “I’m usually the one who takes action on project issues and gets them done quickly. I’m an Activator, and that’s where I’m comfortable! How might I, though, use my talent of Arranger to work with others to begin making this happen?”

Now, in my example, Charlie is obviously aware of what he’s naturally good at and how he achieves success. You, too, can identify your talents on your own and in your own words by taking the time to become keenly aware of what you’re great at and how you operate best. However, you also can use the quick, inexpensive, and effective Strengths Finder assessment. Once Charlie has shifted his internal dialogue to a better place where solutions live, he can then…

3. Create a specific strengths-based action that will get him started.

It’s important to realize at this point that although an assignment has been given to Charlie, one he’s not crazy about and which can disengage him from his role if he’s not careful, he can take back his personal power by tailoring that goal to how he operates best. He’s going to find a way to do it so that he supports himself and appeases his boss. It probably won’t be the very best use of his talents, but he will bring more energy to the task and feel better about it.

So now that Charlie identified that he has a unique talent that he can leverage to help him get excited about this goal (even if it’s just a little bit!), he needs to immediately write down 1-3 steps he’s going to take using his talent of Arranger. One of these steps can sound like: “I will schedule a 15 minute meeting with each person on the team to identify what they’re best at and how they can be successful to this project.” Arrangers happen to be great at spotting talent in others and bringing many people together to bring things to fruition.

In this example, Charlie was not using his talent of Arranger as much as Activator, so he now needs to bring it out into the open and make it a focus for this specific project. Finally, to ensure increased energy and success with this goal, Charlie should…

4. Track his success and check-in with himself weekly.

The self-awareness should never end. Just as with any goal, we must keep them in front of us and present at all times, measuring and tweaking them. Especially with goals that do not initially hold much value for us at the onset, we have to breathe life into them consistently so we don’t push them to the back of our list. We all do this, don’t we? All of the goals we’re super excited about we tackle first, but those which are equally important, because we will be held accountable for them by our leaders, we tend to push them off for as long as possible. But, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced, that tactic can hurt us more than help us.

Leading a strengths-based life is not easy. It takes moment-to-moment awareness, focus and action. But, knowledge is power, and this knowledge about ourselves, what makes us unique, and what helps us to feel successful in all we do, can truly make the difference in our own personal engagement with our roles and goals.

Now, some of you may be in a third category (almost all of us experience this!), where you’ve got that leeway to operate in a strengths-based fashion, but you also have to tackle some assignments or goals that you just don’t care for. Well, I just like to call this LIFE!! If we are able to shift ourselves into a strengths-based way of operating, despite who our supervisor is or what he/she assigns us, chances are that we will be more engaged in our work and and in our lives, and we can better manage those unwanted things that come our way daily. Am I right? Whether it’s an emergency where we have to drop everything, or our position changes overnight, or someone drops the ball and we’re asked to pick it up and make great things happen, change is constant and our glory and engagement lies in leveraging our strengths to make the very best of it (and move on!).

Bottom line: When we are able to roll up our sleeves and accomplish a worthy goal (whether we like it or not) we receive a tremendous amount of energy and exhilaration from it. And if we do so using our talents and strengths, we will always achieve greater levels of productivity, success and joy. All of us, equally, have the capacity to receive these benefits. It’s always a choice.

What will you choose?

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique

 

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Natural Strengths and Wellbeing. Is There a Link?

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 Balance is Bullshit Luly Bh$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

Deploy Know Your Super Human Power in 3 Simple Steps!

This week has been quite exhilarating for me, not only because I’m in Colorado Springs in 18 degree snowy weather, but because I’ve been surrounded by hundreds of talented and ridiculously energizing human beings at Michael Hyatt’s Platform Conference! But, what’s even more exhilarating for me is knowing that each person I was with had a unique super-human power that they were deploying soon (if not already!) to get busy doing what they were meant to do. Something that would impact someone somewhere in some way.

You see, each one of us (yes, that includes you!) is gifted. We were each born with a unique gift that we are meant to put to good use. My belief is that our lifetime is about just that… understanding our gifts and through hell or high water, shining our light.

This stuff excites me, which is why it is at the foundation of the work that I do. How can we complete the task outside of ourselves when we are not certain of what’s inside? It’s also why I love simple and inexpensive tools like StrengthsFinder, because it provides a quick and easy way to help us connect with our super human powers—the combination of talents that only we have! And when you combine our strengths with our desires, and how we hope to impact others, well, then, we are truly deploying our super human powers!

I love this video that a friend of mine shared on Facebook this past week. Check it out and tell me what emotions you felt when you viewed it. My first emotion was sadness. Sadness for myself and for the millions of others who at times (or at all times!) are not seeing what is real about who they are. And, well, I just love how the kiddos in this video so naturally refer to super human powers!!
Doesn’t this happen to us all? These moments of disconnection with who we really are and with our potential drain us of joy and momentum (as evidenced by the expressions in the faces of the adults in the video). And, when I see and hear those children, I feel the opposite. I feel happy and ready to connect with what’s real within me, that potential that we all have to be, do, impact and succeed.

Did you have those super human power desires and dreams as a child? I did! Heck, I went through moments of screaming to the sky with my fist in the air, “I have the power!” like Hercules did, and I waited for the heavens to shoot down into me those powers. Yes, I truly believed I could download power from the sky! (It felt great, by the way! I highly recommend it!)

And while I’m not suggesting that’s what we do on a daily basis, I am suggesting that like those beautiful little souls in the video, we don’t call out our faults, but we recall our super human powers and put them into play each day. 

 

Not sure how to do it? Use these 3 steps to Know and Deploy your Super Human Powers

(Tip: Do these steps quickly! Otherwise your “external voice” will step in and lead you astray!):

1. Stand in front of a mirror and say to yourself, “Although I am not perfect, I am ridiculously gifted! My gifts are: _____________________________________________________________.”  (Shout out at least three! This is a “gut” exercise. Don’t think, just shout!).
2. Continue saying out loud to yourself in the mirror, “When I use my gifts I feel: ______________________________.”   (Don’t think about it…just shout out those emotions!)
3. And, finally, finish it off by saying to yourself in the mirror, “With my gifts I can help others ___________________________________.”

How did that feel? If you were able to flow with it you should feel exuberant, and I encourage you to deploy those super human powers every day in some way in order to connect with your essence; with who you are.

If you have trouble with this, I encourage you to give StrengthsFinder a try. I haven’t yet come across a person whose reaction wasn’t, “Wow, this is me! It’s certainly a great start to tapping into our super human powers and living our lives more from the place where these children were living— a place of excitement, self-love and opportunity!

I LOVE this humorous cartoon created by/for Gretchin Rubin, author of The Happiness Projectwho struggled to “know” and deploy her gifts. Check it out here for a laugh or two. We’re not alone in this quest, folks!

 

Be yourself. Be super human. Be powerful. 
Monique

I can’t believe it’s already “holiday” time! So, not only does that ignite within me the desire to begin creating lots of lists (gifts to give, recipes to cook, cards to make, etc.), but I’m also thinking about what I’ve accomplished this year, and what I still hope to accomplish during my fiscal year (almost half way there!). How about you? I don’t mean to stress you out, but simply to encourage you to look at how far you’ve come and assess whether the goals you’ve set are truly the ones you will, or still hope to achieve. Goals can serve two purposes energetically, they can either fuel us and move us forward with great momentum, or they can weigh us down. The only way to ensure that they don’t do the latter is to take the time to check-in with ourselves and our goals, and continue to give them energy. When we don’t do this, it could be a sign that we are caught in the trap of just setting annual goals, because we are “supposed” to, or we “have” to. There is hardly any positive energy associated with “supposed to,” but there is LOTS of good “ju ju” associated with “want to!” Now is a great time to SWOT it out for yourself; complete a simple analysis–check-in– to see where you’re strong, where you can do better, what opportunities still remain, and what to watch out for, or just let go of (yes, we are allowed to let go of our goals!).

I’m sure you’ve seen this:

Screenshot 2014-10-21 11.32.16

This is an effective business tool for strategic plans, and I find that it also works wonders for our personal development. Here are some questions to ask yourself when completing it:

  • Where I am doing really well? What’s working? What’s getting me 80% of my results via 20% of my time and energy?

  • What are my strengths and how am I leveraging them? How can I better leverage them now? (If you know your strengths via StrengthsFinder – http://gallupstrengthscenter.com– list them here! Looking at how you’re strategically using your strengths daily can help to keep you on track!)

  • What’s not working so well and why? Which weaknesses can I manage better? How? Which weaknesses are better ignored? (Remember that investing in your strengths–what you’re naturally talented in–will always get you better results faster!)

  • What opportunities are on the horizon that I can take advantage of? What didn’t I know or see that now excites me? What’s my low hanging fruit?

  • What can prevent me from achieving my goals? What do I need to address and/or pay more attention to? Again…What may I need to let go of, due to threats? Are these threats worth my time, energy and worry? (Same with weaknesses!)

Based on your SWOT analysis, take a look at your goals and re-assess them. I guarantee you’ll feel much better about where you are and what you are able to achieve. Mostly, though, you’ll feel better about the decisions you’ll make now. Finally, celebrate all that you’ve achieved so far!

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Monique

5 Ways to be your own COO!

September 23, 2014

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When speaking about my coaching, I often get asked, “What’s personal leadership?” Leadership, at the end of the day, is the ability to inspire others with a clear and powerful vision, mobilize them around that vision, and empower them to productively work alone and together with others to achieve a united mission. Now, take that definition and apply it to one’s own life. A “personal leader”, then, can be seen as someone who has a clear vision for his/her life, mobilizes him/herself daily around that vision, and empowers him/herself to productively walk toward achieving that mission. Personal leadership also entails understanding when we are “off mission” so we can make those necessary changes that will put us back on track.

Heck, you can think about personal leadership like being your own Chief Operating Officer! Why would you let someone else operate your life, right? Yes, we all have to follow orders when we work for others, and oftentimes in teams we have to forgo our own agenda. However, despite scenarios like these, life just flows better and energizes us when we are able to tap into our personal leadership and lead our lives from that “core”, proactively, moment to moment.

A key component of our core is our natural talents–innate ways in which we think, feel and act. Each of us is uniquely inclined to think, feel and act in certain ways. In our own leadership, we often feel in-authentic when don’t operate from our core, but instead do what we think others want from us, or we want to be like “those leaders.” Certainly, there are traits of other leaders that we strive to attain for ourselves. Yet, research clearly shows that being more of who we are naturally, makes us more engaged in our lives and “inner”gized, so we can go out there and do our thing.

Now, let’s simplify this! After all, a COO’s job is no easy task, and leadership is kind of a big thing. One easy and empowering way to begin connecting with and applying our personal leadership is to be clear about our natural talents, which become strengths via our focus, intention and application. Many of us innately understand what our talents are. An easy way to “get it in writing” though is to use the simple and time-tested tool: Strengths Finder. In organizations, especially, where you may want to encourage personal leadership among all your employees, this tool gives you a common language to work with.

Screenshot 2014-09-22 20.41.05

When you look at this chart, you can recognize the language that we operate within our careers. These leadership dimensions are critical in any business and for any COO. However, are we naturally strong in all of them? Should we spend our time making ourselves strong in all of them? Or, should we invest in understanding where we operate at our best, using our natural talents, and invest in operating chiefly there? As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach I’m partial to the ladder, but primarily because I truly believe in the science behind it, I live it, and I have seen the difference when individuals lead their lives from their strengths.

So here are 5 ways that you begin to be your own COO (and love it!)…

  1. Identify your Top 5 talent themes via Strengths Finder
  2. Place them on the chart above
  3. Visually understand how you operate at your best within these dimensions. Some times we are balanced and sometimes we are not. No two leaders’ strengths are identical!
  4. Take the time to see how your talents currently play out in your life and where they are lacking.
  5. Intentionally decide how you will play to your strengths daily and do it!

Leading strong in our lives is truly the first step in then being able to lead others in a unique, authentic way. Embrace your unique talents and become your own COO!

If you’d like to take the Strengths path along with others to Name, Claim and Aim your strengths, I’d love for you to join me for my upcoming one-day workshop on October 23rd. Learn more here.

Have a magnificent day!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

 

Retirement? Meh!

March 12, 2014

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A few weeks ago I blogged about Pushing Through on something that is either important for you, or will help you get to that very next level. I truly enjoy the process of pushing through, and this month I’ve been working on my very own project — one that I have been putting off for quite some time. We all have those, don’t we?

Since knowing and leveraging my strengths is very effective for me, I tap into my talent of “activating,” which basically states that in order for me to feel on point, launching things often is very important for me. In the same way, NOT starting something that I know I need to start takes me off track.

Because my project has to do with planning, the idea of retirement came up. Suddenly, I’m paying more attention to the commercials Prudential has been putting out (which I feel are quite impactful) and beginning to imagine what I truly want my “retirement” to look and feel like. I visualize traveling (a lot!), enjoying daily life with my family, and engaging in super fun and youthful activities (hee hee!). Connecting my idea of “retirement” to something meaningful and exciting really helps me to look at it differently.

It doesn’t surprise me then, that one of the factors we know causes the feeling of “happiness” is being able to work hard to achieve something of importance or meaning to us. Shouldn’t our retirement be one of those things? Perhaps it is a time of rest for some, or for others, transformation, healing, or adventure. (Personally, I like adventure!)

Thinking about it is motivating me to redefine the word “retirement.” Let’s simply break down the word:

Retire: to withdraw to or from a particular place

Ment: this suffix can hold several meanings, but the one I’m drawn to is “State of Amazement!”

So, here’s my chosen new meaning of Retirement …

To Withdraw to a State of Amazement! (WSA)

Is this not the hippest way to look at retirement?

YES! If I don’t say so myself!

With this new way of looking at retirement, envisioning what we want and planning how we are going to make it happen becomes a happy planning activity for us.

What’s your vision for your WSA?

Can you tap into one of your strengths to help you think of retirement differently?

Please share your thoughts, or perhaps some great pictures of your new vision for WSA!

Finally, if having the “money talk” is uneasy for you, check out this video from LearnVest to help you get started.

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Namaste,

Monique

Sprouting Seeds

March 5, 2014

Birthdaycakeedit1      Happy Birthday To Me!!

Yes, today is my birthday, and I couldn’t be happier sharing my special day with each of you.

Birthdays are a wonderful time of year for each of us to honor who we are, the special gifts we bring to the world, and to reflect upon all of the good in our lives and all the greatness ahead. I could not be more grateful.

If you’ve read my blog posts in the past, you know that I believe everything is energy. As such, I also believe in the energetic cycles of time — what each day, month or year has in store for each of us, uniquely, based on our birth date, as well for all of us as a whole. It just so happens that this time of year, the energy of Pisces helps us to give birth to all of those wonderful seeds we have planted. If you happen to have the urge to pursue an idea or start a project that has been collecting dust on paper or on your mind’s shelf, know that NOW is the time to take action!

Sprouting-Plant

Taking action isn’t easy. But trust that in pushing forward slightly, you are opening a universal door that will support your every move.

Here are 10 easy tips to help you take off. Pick one or two that resonate with you and get going!

  1. Pick a partner. Enlist someone savvy to help you with your idea or work together with you.
  2. Create space in your calendar. Block off 30 minutes three times per week to dedicate to your initiative. Use your lunchtime if necessary.
  3. Use Sunday as your Creative Day. Take a journal or piece of paper, list all of the things that come to your mind that you would like to DO, BE or START. Pick the one that calls to you. Circle it. Then, ID the first three super small steps you can do this week to launch it.
  4. Design your Manifest Monday by creating one small step you will take action on each Monday for one month.
  5. Write your goal on every mirror in your house, car and office. Keep it top of mind.
  6. Schedule reminders each day (via your calendar or smart phone) to get you to take one more step toward completing your project.
  7. Ask your partner to hold you accountable by calling you daily, weekly, etc.
  8. Ask the question: “How will I feel if I don’t take action on this idea?” Does your answer motivate you?
  9. Write a one-page letter to yourself expressing what you will have accomplished by taking on this task. Seal it. Write your deadline date on the outside of it. Don’t open it until that date. Keep the envelope with you at all times.
  10. Find a picture or image that represents your accomplishment. Make it your screensaver on all your smart tools and computer. Visualize daily your successful completion of it.

Speaking of our uniqueness and sprouting seeds, this month I am giving birth to an exciting new workshop that will help you do just this! I can’t wait to work with a group of individuals who truly want to operate from their core talents and design strategies that will help them operate at their very best.

If you’re in Miami, I hope that you will consider joining me at FIU on March 27 for Discover and Develop Your Strengths NOW!
If you’re not in Miami, I also offer this work one-on-one.

I know you have planted seeds!!!

Go water them now and watch them grow!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Namaste, Monique