Archive for Emotion

Change as a Constant

By · May 2, 2011 · Comments (0)

Change has become the norm. A sense of overwhelm seems more commonplace than ever before in the world and in the workplace. In the last few days we witnessed a royal wedding of epic proportions, a papal beautification, missile bombings and a death of a terrorist. Each has global reverberations and affects many millions around the world. Add a major tornado and cumulatively so many lives are currently affected.

Sometimes it seems life is a constant tornado.

How do you reconcile profound change? Today there are over a trillion web pages, with billions being added daily, so not only is change profound, but instant access to it makes is seem all the more prevalent.

Westminster Abbey remains a steady force reminding us of constancy in a changing world. Over 1000 years old, it took almost 700 years to the complete the beautiful church. She represents beauty, solemnity, and a steady solid presence. When all is a swirl these are the structures in which we find ourselves, solitude and support.

Find a quiet spot on this beautiful spring day, gather your thoughts and refocus on all that is well in the world.

Categories : Emotion, Leadership
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Everyone is Asking for Leadership

By · February 7, 2010 · Comments (0)

There is nothing quite like thinking about personal leadership to get the creative juices flowing, especially when leadership is about bringing out the best in yourself and others, exploring possibilities and experiencing potential. Let’s take a look at various aspects of leadership; the intriguing elements that spur you to action and help you to feel passionate about who you are and all you can do and be.

You are already a leader in so many ways. Leadership belongs to everyone, wherever, and whoever you are in your personal leadership journey. No what matter what your current role, your organization or community, leadership is already yours, to better understand, develop, strengthen and elevate.

What is important is that you seek to increase and reinforce your capacity as a leader. You have the skills and abilities to be an even stronger leader, and there is also always a next level, and a next step waiting for you. This is whether you are a CEO, or seek to become one, an aspiring manager, a professional, an activist or currently a student. Let’s move together from where you are today, into the realm of expanded leadership thinking. There is a leader in everyone waiting recognition and development.

Categories : Emotion, Leadership
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Happy New Year! Don’t get caught in old patterns of thought at the beginning of a fresh decade. This is the time that calls for creative thinking.

Creativity initiates a shift to a new approach. This is so much more than taking information, analyzing and building on it, and instead is based on creating transformational thinking. Creativity opens up possibilities and potential more fully. It can be seen as the difference between renovating a house and building one. It breaks down limitations and finds new approaches. Open minded creativity creates new perspectives, reduces limitations and provides a freedom for the future.

True creativity goes further than merely ideas. It is also putting ideas into practice. Picture creative ideas around you in never ending swirls, waiting to be grasped and secured into material being. Just as you can’t harness the wind without tools for physical capture and energy conversion, ideas will dissipate into nothingness unless a relationship is made to turn the ideas into reality. An environment or community that cultivates and cherishes the creative spirit is how true imaginative creativity and innovation come into being.

New ideas and novel solutions can be stimulated with expressive thinking, resourcefulness, and originality. Put yourself into places, situations, and with people that stimulate your imagination. Creative thinking can be used to meet many of your objectives. It might be doing or thinking about situations in a slightly different way, or from a new perspective. The ability to build something from nothing, is what distinguishes a creator from those who do not create. The brilliant feeling you get when a truly creative idea strikes, is often followed by an intense desire to make it real.

In his extensive research on the creative process and its related environment, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi summarized that ‘creativity leaves an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of the future’. In his book, Creativity, he ventures well beyond the discussion of mere change, to recommend that readers work to find an emotional response that is stimulating and invigorating as they work to increase creativity. When you recognize your emotions, you provoke and stir creative thought by adding a dimension to your thinking. It is key to recognize feelings for interpretation in order to broaden, not narrow your thinking.

Find your passion, and build on it with ideas you can manifest into reality through the creative process. Csikszentmihalyi noted that individuals are motivated by the challenge of the unfinished, and not necessarily drawn to complete and final resolutions. The unfinished are the more interesting problems of intrigue that appeal to your senses. In addition, you would rather work on, and think about something that you resonate with, and awakening a passion inside you. Your zeal is more likely to draw solutions for you, than an area you are somewhat apathetic about.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the renowned literary figure, utilized creativity throughout his writing endeavors. As an acclaimed American essayist and poet, noted for thinking differently and having broad insights, he wrote Self-Reliance. He stated the importance of following one’s own instincts and ideas, breaking away from conformity and utilizing one’s creativity. Emerson focused on the individual, and famously said ‘The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.’ Make a start, a fresh start and one idea will lead you onward.

stephen-covey-7-habits-pittsburgh-july-29-09The first time I recall having a front row seat at a major event was at a production of le Miserable. The event was especially memorable because I watched in rapture as a feather dislodged from a dancers costume and wafted slowly down from the stage and landed right in my lap.

Ever since, securing a front row at any event has been a delight and an honor, coveted, and hard work, but well worth it, because it puts you right up close with the action.

I have found over the years that obtaining a seat in the front row requires lots of extra effort and even then happens only occasionally. It means arriving very early, reserving far in advance, paying more for the privilege, knowing someone special, or even by helping the planners out. I didn’t expect though, that my profound feather experience would ever be repeated, and yet it happened again just this morning. 

It was uncanny, serendipitous and synchronous, when a feather dropped from Stephen Covey’s ‘Indian Talking Stick’  as he waved it to the audience, emphasizing its strength. I have read Covey’s books many times over the decades and hearing him speak live at 77 years old meant a lot to me.

There I was somehow ready for the unexpected, front and center, and  managed to catch a photo of Stephen Covey and his stick. A shiver went down my spine as I recognized the beauty of the moment, it’s wonderful alignment and congruency and I knew that I was in the right place.

Covey reminded us with the warmth and wisdom of a sage of the timeless ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’:

Dependence to Independence

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Choice 
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Vision
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First: Principles of Integrity & Execution

Independence to Interdependence

  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Mutual Benefit
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Principles of Mutual Understanding
  • Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation

Continual Improvement

  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was published 20 years ago and is still a best seller in business and leadership. Five years ago, Covey followed with The 8th Habit, which is finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. When we asked him how he came to develop the extra habit Covey said he sensed a lack of emotional commitment to what people represent, and felt compelled to teach personal significance and passion.  Covey delivers his message with a quiet, knowing conviction, and I felt drawn to his personal passion.

You may be wondering what the ‘Indian Talking Stick’ is all about? Ask someone to hold a talking stick, and then ask them to talk until they feel that you completely understand what they are thinking and feeling. ‘I am serious, try it,’ Covey said. The talking stick is a tool for conflict resolution, empathy and improving relationships.

A marvelous message from a feather.


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London Leadership Challenge

By · June 29, 2009 · Comments (0)

St Pauls CathedralLove versus fear is a fascinating leadership topic. Today I am reminded of what fear really feels like.

Heart stopping, weak in the knees, nerve wracking fear, in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, of all places. It is Christopher Wren’s architectural bridge between earth and heaven. I was sitting quite contentedly in the whispering chamber, surveying the checkerboard floor far below the base of the great dome, and remembering the old women feeding birds for a tuppence on the steps of St. Paul’s in Mary Poppins. It is a grand cathedral, steeped in history, and as magnificent as any.

My daughter, a 15 year old runner, and my husband, also an athlete had just sprinted to the very top of the dome and down again, and insisted I do the same. They said that the view from the top is like no other, so off I went up the next set of steps. When I reached the chamber of gold, the next set of stairs somehow appeared rickety and unsafe, and when I asked the guard about them, she admitted that this upper section of the dome had reopened only this morning after a year of repairs. What should have made me feel better, made me feel worse. I felt less safe than I ever recall. ‘You can’t be afraid mom, you jumped out of an airplane’ my daughter said, but it did little to diminish my rising fear. My knees were pure gelatin, palms were dripping and my heartbeats had become a deafening thump, thump, thump, exploding in my chest.

This was new. I am not afraid of heights. I am not afraid of small spaces. And yet I felt terror at ascending a small flight of steps. Hours later my entire body flushes in the recollection. Clearly, I did make it to the top and back down again.

Focus and breath. Focus and breath. This is how to move you through your worst fears, an inch, a step, a piece at a time. As with someone afraid of snakes, show it to them, have them touch it and soon they will be holding it, after a series of successive and successful approximations.

Move across fear to the other side, or above the fear to the very top, for the spectacular view, and well worth the climb.

Fear is very real, but move across the chasm of the unexpected and unexplained, through the fear to the other side.

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nhl-stanley-cup-final-pittsburgh-penguins-vs-detroit-red-wingsEven though I am sitting in a little cabin in the woods, overlooking Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and watching a historic event on a tiny television, this moment is as precious as it could possibly be, whether here, or live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the Igloo Arena in the city of three rivers.

Memories are created by emotions. When a powerful feeling overcomes you; when strong emotion occurs, it creates its own neural circuit in your brain, ripe for retrieval.

A first kiss, a wedding dance, a babies birth, and for Pittsburgh, winning the 2009 Stanley Cup, hockey’s most coveted prize, represents moments of such ecstasy that the brain connection we create is fully etched and imprinted, forever accessible to each of us who participated.

Hockey’s Stanley Cup and football’s Super Bowl, at home in Pittsburgh in the same year. Congratulations Pittsburgh Penguins 2009!

The moment is now. The memory is forever.

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Take a Few Deep Breaths

By · April 2, 2009 · Comments (0)

Breathe consciously.

BreatheThere are so many benefits to developing an awareness of your breathing. Take a few deep breathes, simply breathe in and breathe out. Stop for a moment to collect and gather yourself as separate from the many moments and experiences of your day. You have already moved a step closer to self awareness. Beginning is that simple.

Do you feel a little calmer, more centered and have a better sense of well being? Just breathe in and breathe out. Being aware, through creating a brief interlude of consciousness, or a pause to gather yourself, is a respite in what for many people has become highly active and extremely interactive lives. The know yourself component of self awareness is more readily available to you when take time to pause your thinking and become your authentic self. This is a very different you than the stretched and multidirectional person who may be continually pulled and overextended.

Daniel Goleman, renowned for his groundbreaking research on emotional intelligence, and its application in the workplace, concluded that people with high self awareness understand their emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives. Additionally, people with strong self awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful, but are honest with themselves and others. Goleman also indicated that those who are self aware know their values and goals, and know where they are headed and why. They can be recognized by their confidence, and have a firm grasp of their capabilities. They are also less likely to set themselves up to fail and they play to their strengths. In leadership self awareness builds confidence, credibility and reliability. Self awareness and breathing go hand in hand. Breathe consciously.

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Starting with What is Personal

By · February 22, 2009 · Comments (0)

Leadership is personal.

It includes beginning with who you are. Once you have a solid, sustainable and enduring personal approach in place, leadership outcomes for you also depend on planning, and the outlining of a strategy to carry you forward. This will serve as a roadmap for you, and is outlined in the second section of ‘How to think Like a Leader’.

All leadership also involves others, not much as followers, but as collaborators. The third major component of leadership to delve into is people and relationships. This includes bringing out the best in yourself, and in others. Finally, as leadership by definition includes catalyzing change, think about the major components of change and how to influence it.

The personal, planning, people and change categories of leadership are the same four categories that over a hundred of the major leadership models in the literature can be grouped into. This is also why these are the areas for you to focus on. They are the four major areas to be thinking about as you gain further clarity on where you are in your personal leadership expedition.

But start with what is personal, and who you are, to set you on your way.

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