April 16, 2016
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
- Play and Work
- Finding Meaning
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!
June 25, 2015
How many of us would consider a ten day silent meditation as a learning experience? I thought it would be a nice getaway, time to be with me. Never did I imagine that ten days of silence would teach me more than any book or class.
Upon my arrival to the meditation center, I was escorted to the dining area where all students were gathered awaiting the instructions for the next ten days. There were nineteen women and seven men of different ages gathered around the dining area chatting while anticipating that soon the echo of chatter would fade and the sound of a pin drop would be heard. Moments later, the manager of the center appears and plays the instructions from a tape recorder–yes, it was pretty antiquated to say the least, but we weren’t at the Apple Headquarters. The instructions: no talking, no eye contact, no reading, no cell phone, no books, no writing, no exercising, no killing of any insects-including Mosquitos. After the recording finished, the manager said, “From now forward everyone is to honor these noble rules.”
Every morning, we gather in group at 4:30 AM in the main hall for group meditation, and then spending about 12 hours each day learning and practicing the Vipassana meditation technique. The goal is to sharpen your mind, to raise your awareness and to know yourself better.
Five Lessons I Learned in Ten Days:
1) The moment is yours.
This moment is all you have; what do you want to experience? Too many times we are living in yesterday or tomorrow and not in the now. We hear it often, but don’t experience it enough-enjoy the now, it’s all you have.
2) Pain and Attachment
I have often pondered on the question, what causes pain? Our attachment to things, feelings and people causes a constant state of desire to the attachment. As soon as the “attachment” is taken away, pain sets in. Imagine you lose a watch that is very expensive, you get sad and may even cry at your loss of the watch. Now imagine your colleague has the same watch and it goes missing; this time you don’t cry or get sad. The attachment is to the object and it causes misery. Attachment causes pain.
3) Love is yours.
This one lesson is a bit difficult for most to comprehend. No one can actually GIVE you love; it’s yours, always has been and always will be. Others can share their love with you, but never give it to you because love is within you and you already possess it. This in essence proves the notion that you are love.
4) Know thyself.
All great sages and religious leaders advise us to know thyself, not just intellectually, emotionally or devotionally, but know reality experientially. Experience directly the reality of our mental/physical phenomenon; this is what helps us be free from suffering.
5) Compassion heals.
Over ten days of silence and the most important lesson was on my way back home at the airport. I stopped in the food court and picked up a sandwich. After I ordered my food, there was a change of shift. I observed a fragile and sensitive young man who came to the register taking people’s orders in a genuinely friendly manner. I noticed he would often made mistakes on the register and as soon as he made a mistake, he would get very flustered, so much so that his co-workers didn’t want to be around him and it was quite obvious. Instantaneously I felt his suffering as if it was my own. As soon as the customers cleared, I approached him and he warmly welcomed me and asked to take my order. I glanced over at his name tag and responded, “No. thank you Jacob. I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you are doing.” Jacob began to cry and reached out for my hand and we cried together. Everyone faces the “universal problem” of suffering, the remedy is also universal…compassion heals. What I saw in Jacob was merely a reflection. Sometimes it’s that simple, people are in need of compassion.
We all seek growth; sometimes we seek it externally, yearning for external praise, status or things. But, growth happens from the inside out, contrary to what we have been conditioned to believe. It is not wrong to try to get rid of the apparent external cause of your suffering. But it is more important to get rid of the internal cause.
May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people be free from misery. May you enjoy real peace, real harmony, and real happiness.
Rula Sater is a certified coach and Master Neurolinguistic program practitioner. She incorporates meditation and mindfulness in her work with her clients. She primarily works with those in leadership capacity coaching them on breaking down obstacles, understanding how to better communicate and how to reach and utilize their true leadership potential. Additionally, Rula provides leadership training to organizations seeking to create an exceptional leadership workforce. She has been recognized as a Top 40 Trainer Under 40 in North America by Training Magazine. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organization Psychology.
June 17, 2015
Inevitably there will be times in our lives when we will be toxic. In fact, it’s probably no coincidence that as I write this blog, I, in fact, am toxic. You see, we are human, and during our very human moments we do things like eat too much pizza (because it’s quick and cheap!), speak on our cell phones too much, or expose ourselves to too many chemicals, like household cleaning products. Because I’ve been on this “learning path” for a while now, I’m pretty aware of when things are not working for me. My body screams at me like it’s been doing for the past two weeks. Not a fun time! After quite a healthy run, I’ve been experiencing severe digestive issues, sinus headaches, increased allergies, and painful back aches. YIKES! Right now, I’m TOXIC, and I’m slowly making those shifts I need in order to get back to my optimal state.
Do you know when you are toxic?
As you may know, I’ve been blogging about the book by James Jordan, Your Health is in Your Hands. We’ve covered becoming your own health detective, the importance of nutrients, and this week, we cover the nasty role that toxins play in our health (or lack of health!). There is such a wealth of information in Jim’s book. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the e-book ($6.99 on Amazon) so you can get into the granular, amazing information he provides. Oh, and did I mention this is a quick and easy read? No encyclopedia here! It’s a wonderful reference for everyday folks like you and me. What I hope to do in this post is offer a few simple ways to understand what can make us toxic, and a few simple steps you can take.
What’s a Toxin?
Jim defines a toxin as any substance that creates irritating or harmful effects, undermines our health or stresses our biochemistry or organ function. The three primary categories of toxins we get exposed to daily include chemicals, heavy metals and radiation. And, this really caught my attention:
Your rate of detoxification must exceed your intake of toxins or you will age faster,
develop chronic illnesses and die prematurely.
This must be understood if you are serious about taking charge of your health.
How do we Detox?
I’ve already highlighted a few of these in my earlier posts, but I’ll list them again, and refer to them as S.H.E.A.D.: SLEEP, HYDRATE, ELIMINATE, ASSIMILATE & DIGEST. Not too complicated, right? Get enough sleep (this was a big one when I blogged about Ariana Huffington’s book, Thrive, last summer), drink about 4 oz of water every 30 minutes, eliminate (I’ll say it like a Mommy…. GO POTTY REGULARLY!), get your nutrients, and support digestion by eating the right foods and getting your nutrients. Here’s a fun fact: We really do need our 8 hours of sleep! Getting our Zzzz’s helps our brains clear away the waste that is responsible for diseases like Alzheimer’s, and other neurological disorders!
How do we lessen the duration and quantity of toxins we are exposed to?
My answer? One small step at a time. We are exposed to thousands upon thousands of chemicals daily. Let’s try not to get overwhelmed by this thought, but make a few SMALL and SMART decisions that are within our control. For example, cleaning products. Part of the reason I am experiencing some of the symptoms I have right now may be due to the fact that I had to fire my cleaning lady! As a result, I am doing lots of heavy lifting around the house and making contact with lots of chemicals. One step I intend to take immediately is to purchase natural cleaning products. Other chemicals we often don’t think of, which can suppresses our immune system, poison our nervous system, and can contribute to health issues like cardiovascular disease, and ADD, include: refined sugar, MSG, sulfites (in wine!), all fake sugars, and BPA from plastic bottles! Keep it simple…use non-refined, organic or natural sweeteners, and use BPA-FREE bottles. You don’t have to stop the wine, but consider buying organic, sulfite-free wine. I do!
Heavy metals are another source of yuckiness! Most heavy metals come in the form of pollution. They, literally, are heavier versions of lead, mercury, arsenic, and many others. These pollutants get into our foods and can be found in our medications, vaccines, antibiotics, and in dental fillings and crowns! I was not aware of the latter until I had my first consult with Jim. I had so many mercury fillings in my teeth, and that’s one of the first things I did—remove all my mercury (amalgam) fillings. And get this…
(According to a study) On average, 81% of the symptoms (many!!) were cured or improved after amalgam removal!!!
Because heavy metals can decrease the normal activity of our enzymes to a mere 5%, the result is our compromised health. One of the common health issues many experience today is called Leaky Gut Syndrome, which causes inflammation (the cause of most illnesses today!), pain, and irritation to the immune and nervous system. Aside from removing our amalgam fillings, a few other simple steps we can take include: doing a heavy metal detox program at least once a year (resources in Jim’s book), take regular clay baths, eat cilantro, chlorella, coconut oil, and medicinal mushrooms, like shiitake! And probably the best simple step….SWEAT (via exercise and sauna), which appears “to be a potential method for elimination of many toxic elements from the human body.”
The last toxin we’ll cover is radiation. One of Jim’s mentors, Michael Coyle, shared with Jim that (non-ionizing) radiation will be the number one environmental factor affecting our health in the 21st Century. Non-ionizing sources of radiation include our cell phones, microwaves, computers, electrical appliances, and more. Excess exposure to these can cause fatigue, headaches, foggy thinking, depression, sleep disturbances, ADD, ADHD, and increased risk of certain types of cancers (brain) for high volume cell phone usage. Now, I’m not any more willing than you (most likely!) to stop using all of my convenient, shiny, productive electronics. But, I can say that I can see the potential affect it is having on me and my son, who now uses a tablet for all his school work. This is the challenge of the future. Some of the simple steps we are taking include: keep our electronics at least one foot away from our bodies (especially during sleep…no phone under your pillow!), limit our microwave use (don’t stare at your food while it cooks!), use our cell speaker phones as often as possible (or a headset), take detox baths often, and get our nutrients (helps to rid us of toxins as I mentioned in my last post).
I hope you’re a bit more enlightened, as I am! What I love about Jim’s book is that although it’s very technical in providing all of the science behind what our bodies do and don’t need and the effects on our bodies (potentially very dangerous over time), the solutions truly are very simple. With a bit of dedication and patience (and lots if intention), we really can be smart detectives and change agents for ourselves and those we love.
Now, go detox, folks!
It’s your life, lead it well!
1. Get Clean or your WHY.
Decide what it is you want and WHY. Do you want to lose weight and get in shape? Take 10 minutes to sit down and find out your WHY. Finding out your WHY is going to be the motivator that keeps you moving forward even when you may not feel like it. People who complete this important step are much more likely to succeed than those who don’t take the time to find out their WHY.
At first you’re why my may be that you want to lose weight but if you dig a little deeper, you may find other reasons such as: fitting into your favorite pair of jeans, or being able able to run around with your children and not get out of breath. Maybe it’s to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and without inflammation or joint pains. Becoming clear on your personal WHY will set you up for success.
2. Decide, commit and don’t give in to excuses.
Make the commitment to yourself that you are going to do what it takes to get hot and healthy. Life is always going to throw things in your way and try to knock you off track. It is the people who keep going and don’t stop that are successful.
Let me tell you a secret, there is no wagon to fall off of. Just keep going at your next meal or your next workout. Don’t be like the rest of the people who keep starting and stopping and never get anywhere. It may not be an easy journey, but what you will learn about yourself and what you are capable of are priceless.
3. Start your day with lemon water and drink up to half your weight in water every day.
Lemon water is a fabulous way to start the day. It helps to flush the body of toxins that have been accumulating while you are sleeping. It is refreshing and tastes great.
Hydration is extremely important for a healthy body. Most people do not drink enough of it. When you realize you are thirsty you are probably already dehydrated.
Water is a great metabolism booster and a natural weight loss aid. It can increase energy, relieve fatigue and can boost your immune system. Eating foods that are high in water content like fruits and vegetables will help you to have beautiful skin. So go drink some water!
4. Get rid of processed foods.
Your body does not know how to handle processed foods. It’s like a foreign invader in your body. Processed foods or as I call them “Franken Foods,” can cause hormone disruptions in the body, add to cellulite and slow down weight loss. Kick them to the curb and incorporate healthy proteins, fruits, veggies and of course lots of water!
Diet foods, low calorie, sugar-free, fat free, be careful of these types of foods. Read the labels and see what is in them. Can you pronounce the words? If not then I suggest you put it back on the shelf, your body does not need them.
5. Get more restful sleep.
I think the world seems to be lacking in sleep lately. Are you getting enough? Did you know that when you sleep your body has a chance to cleanse, repair and rebuild.
HGH or human growth hormone is secreted when you are in deep sleep. HGH is like the fountain of youth, so if you are not getting enough then you are shutting down your bodies’ own natural fountain of your pharmacy. Strive for 8 hours of interrupted sleep a night.
6. Schedule your workouts in your calendar and keep them no matter what.
I would hope that if you made an appointment with your doctor, hairdresser or accountant that you would keep it. The appointments you keep with yourself are even more important because you are worth it.
Make a plan of action pick 2-4 days a week that you are going to schedule in your fitness and keep it. Even if it is only 10 minutes, instead of 1 hour, that is fine. Keep the appointment and commitment you made to yourself. It takes 21 days to create a new habit. You can do it!
7. Plan out your meals for the week.
This is such a life -saver when you are getting in shape. If you take 30 minutes to 1 hour and plan out your meals for the week you are going to be so successful!
Most people fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to their nutrition. Successful people plan, implement and take action. Try new recipes, experiment with new flavors, spices and herbs. Eating hot and healthy can be a lot of fun if you PLAN.
8. Posture is the KEY to a strong core.
Who doesn’t want a strong core? Notice how you are sitting while you are reading this. Are you slouched over? Could you be sitting up straighter?
Most chairs and cars put your body in a position that pushes out your stomach muscles instead of holding them in. During the do posture checks and notice your bodies alignment. This one tip can help give you a stronger core without doing any push-ups. How great is that?!
Written by Laura London, contributing blogger for FIU Life Well LED’s
Summer of Wellbeing!
Laura is a lifestyle coach, holistic nutritionista and a fitness specialist. She is also the author of the Hot and Healthy Body. Since overcoming Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Epstein Barr Disease, and a chronic back issue, Laura has reinvented, not only her healthy, but also her life – in her 40’s. She is here to show you that you can do it too!
Laura has become an inspiration to women across the globe with her down-to-earth personality and her simple, easy-to-follow healthy advice and workout routines.
June 3, 2015
As you’ve heard me share over the last few weeks, during our Summer of Wellbeing— the next 11 weeks, I’ll be going back to my “Relaxed Book Club” blogging roots and reading and sharing the content from two wonderful books. Today I begin with Your Health is in Your Hands, by James D. Jordan, CNC, JD.
Jim was introduced to me by mother, Ellie, who was experiencing some very scary symptoms that most doctors just pushed away with a prescription pad. When she was close to her wits end, she found Jim and her path to healing began.
I, too, was experiencing symptoms of my own. I was exhausted all the time, and even fell asleep at the wheel one day and crashed into another vehicle. As a life-long dancer who always watched what she ate, I truly thought I was eating healthy. I also experienced severe allergies most of my teens and college years, but just stuck to the drugs that claimed to fix me. I even developed asthma at the age of 35, which took me by surprise.
Just as Jim did for my mother, he opened my eyes to a new way of living and eating, one that would help me put the power back in my hands and not in a prescription pad.
A sentence in Jim’s book caught my attention, as it also caught his attention when he was at his wits end, not understanding why he was feeling so sick. A Chinese doctor in Chicago told him the following:
“These are not your problems. You are just not healthy. When you are healthy you cannot be sick.”
Just like most of in the western world, Jim learned from this doctor that focusing on his health condition, or problem, wasn’t going to help him. What was going to begin his path to wellness—to true health—was to focus on the underlying causes of why he wasn’t feeling well. His focus now was away from the label of his illness and to the 100% attention on the nourishing and strengthening of his body, mind, and soul. Jim shares,
“I learned that whenever I felt less than optimal, I
should always look to the underlying cause of why I did not feel well.”
His road back to health followed three clear steps:
- Reject all things that were clearly not working for him.
- Become open to new therapies, diets and healing modalities that could increase his vitality and strength (with no toxic side effects).
- Find his purpose in life—to get well and help others get well too.
I love this book, because Jim keeps it really simple. The simplicity of getting healthy also helps those of us who are parents— to become detectives for our kids and figure out what small tweaks can help them be healthier.
In a nutshell, we need to ask three questions:
- Where are we deficient in nutrients?
- Are we toxic?
- What is causing us stress?
Personally, I can tell you that after experiencing what I did and learning my “Underlying Causation Paradigm,” as Jim refers to it, I now ask myself these questions every time I have a new symptom—no matter what it may be. I could begin sneezing a lot again or my asthma kicks into high gear, or perhaps I get more frequent head aches, or have unusual periods of fatigue. Instead of just heading to the pharmacy or doctor for a “fix me” prescription, I now try to take more personal responsibility and figure out what may be causing my symptoms. I also take a “spin” on the wellness wheel, which I shared in one of my videos and get curious about what’s going on. Guess what? I usually know what’s happening and I make minor tweaks that help me get better. Now, I’m not sharing this to encourage you to not visit a doctor. I have doctors and I do visit them, but mostly for prevention (vitals, and check-ups), and for emergencies that may need immediate attention. But, I have to say that it is quite empowering to be more knowledgeable about how I can help myself as a first step instead of running to find help and put the power in someone else’s hands. Next week I’ll begin to share some of Jim’s great knowledge that can help you be your own detective. Until then, think about these scary stats that Jim shares in the book:
- Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercises.
- More than 133 million Americans (45% of the population) have at least one chronic condition and 26% have multiple chronic conditions. Chronic disease is currently the leading cause of all death and disability in the U.S., responsible for 70% of all deaths.
- A large portion of the population consistently fails to meet even the minimal intakes recommended in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for many key nutrients.
- ADHD diagnosis for children ages 4-17 years has risen 42% between 2003 and 2011.
- Childhood obesity has tripled in the U.S. Over the past two decades resulting in the quadrupling of childhood chronic deceases in the past four decades.
It’s time to get smart about our health and the health and vitality of our children. It’s time to reclaim some of our power and make smart choices that can change our lives. Are you with me? Join me next week as we dig a little deeper into the nutrients we need to sustain us. It’s your life, lead it well! Namaste,Monique
January 15, 2015
I consider myself a lucky girl to have received the new Fitbit Charge for Christmas. I see so many people wearing one or a similar device, and of course I was intrigued! And as a personal leadership and wellbeing coach I have to admit I was experiencing a some FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)!
So how has this magical device helped me, and how can it help you? Here’s what I’ve learned and loved so far:
1. Say goodbye to being sedentary! Did you know that the majority of Americans are considered sedentary? One of my favorite wellness books, Eat. Move. Sleep. by Tom Rath details this very clearly for us. Pay attention folks! People who walk fewer than 5,500 steps are considered sedentary, and the average American falls below this sedentary line!!! Being sedentary brings on a host of health issues which we won’t get into today, but 10,000 steps are considered a good target for overall activity and equates to about 5 miles. With Fitbit you can set a daily steps goal, and the minimum recommended to get us above and beyond that sedentary line is 10,000. In comparison to Americans, Australians average 9,695 steps per day. Their obesity rate is just 16% compared to our 34%! I don’t know about you, but I want to beat those Aussie’s!!
2. Say hello to accountability! The online Fitbit Dashboard and App gives you a multitude of ways to hold yourself accountable. First, you can find friends who also own one and challenge yourself to take more steps than they do daily! With the Fitbit you also can set alarms to remind you to get up and move. Also according to Tom Rath, and as I have learned as well, you can easily achieve 3,000 steps by just taking a daily lunch break and walking/climbing steps. Since I work on a beautiful campus, this allows me to not only walk, but achieve my mindful goal, which I love to do via walking and sensing the world around me. Oh, and, I just love that Fitbit sends me all these badges when I’ve achieved something super cool! (I love recognition!!)
3. Here comes motivation! Let me be really clear. Achieving 10,000 steps daily is no easy feat. You have to want to do it, and you have to strategize how you’re going to do it. If you spend a lot of time in your office and on the computer, it’s almost impossible to achieve! Without a tool like Fitbit to be an ever-present reminder you’d need to create another source of accountability. As you begin to use it and visit your dashboard daily, you begin to understand the best way to achieve 10,000 steps or more each day. For me, if I’m not able to get out for lunch, I know that I need to get across campus for some reason, like visiting a colleague. Or, perhaps I will need to fit in an evening walk around my neighborhood, or a Zumba class. I also know that I have to take a break from sitting every hour, even if it means just getting up for a stretch, glass of water, or a short walk across the hall. Anything to not sit for so long. Bottom line, once you understand how you can reach 10,000 each day, and how very critical it is for your health, your motivation skyrockets!
4. Wellness as a whole increases! We know that there are other strategies that we can use to help keep us healthy, like logging what we eat, our daily exercise, and how much water we drink. You also can do this on Fitbit’s dashboard. It’s a one stop shop! As the saying goes, what you focus on becomes a reality! Entering and looking at this data daily definitely helps you achieve a sense of wellbeing in a variety of areas.
5. Bring on the Zzzzs! One of the main reasons why I was interested in the Fitbit was it’s ability to track my sleeping patterns. As some of you know, over the summer I blogged about Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive. In the book she identifies sleep as one of the metrics for success and wellbeing. In it she states that just 30 more minutes of sleep will immediately improve your health, creativity, productivity and sense of well-being. (I agree!!) She recommends to either go to bed earlier, get up later, or take 2 short naps a day. In the book, Bill Clinton admitted, “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.”
I believe that each of us intuitively knows what those health levers are for us. Over the years I have realized that for me, sleep is critical. It is also one of the areas most challenging for me to improve. The Fitbit tracks the number of times I am restless or awakened while I sleep, therefore giving me a true picture of the total number of hours I am actually at rest. Well, it’s kind of scary! With this information, I’m able to better understand my sleep patterns and continue to make adjustments to help me figure out the very best way for me to get a minimum of 7 hours of true sleep each night.
And just to throw in one extra PLUS… for those of you who have been trying not to sleep with your phone next to you, but have to because your alarm is your phone, well the Fitbit takes care of that! I no longer rely on my phone to wake me. My Fitbit gently buzzes me when it’s time to wake, and it also notifies me when I receive a call. So, I’m no longer a hostage to my cell! BONUS!!!
I don’t sell Fitbits and I don’t make a commission off of them! I simply love sharing products or resources for busy people who want to make their wellbeing a priority.
How has Fitbit or another tool help you achieve your wellbeing goals? I’d love to hear from you.
It’s your life. Lead it well.
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