Archive for Optimism
Meaningful conversations change lives, and even a single dialogue can sometimes lead to a lifelong quest. So it was for my student, years ago in the African savannah, but also for me, as we shifted back and forth from learner to teacher, and back yet again, as both of us searched to understand what lay at the heart of leadership, if in fact leadership was the key to making a difference in the world.
Leadership, it turns out, can be best defined as influencing change through a vision. It is ensuring the realization of an envisioned future. Much has been written about leadership in the annals of academia, by great historians, politicians, entrepreneurs, and by those whose leadership practices we truly aspire to. I have been working on summarizing the essentials for transformational leadership, a daunting task. It is coming together as a convergence of cognition and competencies, thinking and acting, and is ultimately about doing.
After my personal quest into leadership began so many years ago, it continually begged expression. Time and again in my life, I felt the challenge arise to paint a current picture of effective leadership through the lens of thoughts, why thoughts matter, and how they impact our lives. It has taken me decades of searching to understand leadership with some depth, and find the courage to write it down.
A single, meaningful conversation changed my life because it set me on the path of deciphering leadership, and simultaneously finding my passion.
You have the foundation for great leadership, and in some areas you may have highly developed strengths, while in others there is a greater potential you can reach. So think right now about your leadership journey, wherever you are you are on your quest. You achieve through a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes effective leadership, and the supporting scientific and cognitive research that supports a strength-based approach to leadership. This leads to a more practical understanding and direct application to help you build and expand your thinking. This means you will have greater opportunities to choose your own leadership direction, and determine outcomes you wish achieve for yourself, and those you lead. As a result you further the causes and initiatives that are meaningful to you, and ultimately make a difference.
You will become a stronger leader, and a stronger person, just by knowing which characteristics and qualities are most important. Practicing skills and reinforcing habits will not only make a difference for you, but will also make you more successful in your undertakings and help you to explore greater possibilities. Build on a solid foundation.
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.
Are you familiar with Appreciative Inquiry? It is a term coined by David Cooperrider, Ph.D, a professor in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Appreciative inquiry is a revolutionary methodology for achieving sustainable, desired, strength-based change. Cooperrider emphasizes that anyone who wants to make a difference in the world has to aim higher and one way to achieve achieve this is for each of us as individuals to support the building of positive institutions. He discussed the importance of the positive human experience, which includes what is good, has hope, joy and inspiration, and applying it to whole systems.
Cooperrider challenges businesses to be agents of world benefit and teaches that applied positive change has four major components, each with important questions -
- Discovery and asking what gives life for the best of what is: Appreciating
- Dreaming and asking what might be: Envisioning Results
- Design and asking what should be: Co-constructing
- Destiny and asking how to empower: Sustaining
Learn all about this innovative approach to change at http://worldbenefit.case.edu/
Wyland has earned distinction as one of America’s most unique creative influences and a leading advocate for marine resource conservation. An accomplished painter, sculptor, photographer, writer, and scuba diver, he has traveled around the world for more than 25 years, capturing the power and the beauty of the undersea universe.
Wylands efforts have been recognized by the United Nations, the Sierra Club, the Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences, and private and public institutions worldwide.
Wyland, hailed a “marine Michelangelo” by USA Today, is listed in the Who’s Who in American Art, Guinness World Records, and many other national and international publications. Wyland inspires people to live their passion, and create a business from doing so.
Inspirational, a great talent and utilizing his passion to lead change conserving our natural environment.
I took a walk down to the trail behind the South Fayette High School and was in awe of how beautiful it has become. Every season it is even more scenic, with the school tower above the hollow serving as a guiding compass.
Several years ago I co-founded the South Fayette Conservation Group and together we obtained a grant to build a wetland, educational trail and outdoor classroom that will forever be a part of our school and community.
Here is the amphitheatre, a multipurpose greenspace nestled as a natural classroom in the woods.
And we love celebrations! Celebrate successes as you achieve them. Celebrate summer on its way after a long, cold winter. Get outside and breathe deeply into the new day.
Albert Einstein said that there are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle, and the other is as though everything is a miracle. This is the ‘half-full or half-empty’ approach to looking at a glass of water, and at the world. This may remind you of the power of your choices, and your imperative to manage your thoughts, not having thoughts manage you. Einstein understood the influence of gratitude. He had a full appreciation of the scholars that had previously laid the groundwork and set the stage for his own discoveries and breakthroughs, when he noted:
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
Gratitude can help you to have appreciation for all that you are, do, have, and perceive. Like Einstein, it may spur you to a response of action, but it can also make obstacles in your path much less difficult. By having a sense of appreciating what is working, you are less likely to be pulled down by that which isn’t. By focusing on gratefulness for how far you have come, and what you have accomplished, it becomes easier to take steps and embark on the remaining portions of your journey and tasks. This allows you to take necessary initiatives for achieving your goals. Being grateful also serves to immediately make you feel a charge of goodwill and confidence.
Another birthday, another year, and another reason celebrate life.
A fascinating discussion on the future of books and reading took place today at Book Expo America in New York City, the world’s largest book conference. The conversation, called ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ featured authors Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired, Lev Grossman, Time Magazine Book Critic, Steve Johnson, of ‘Invention of Air’ fame, and Tom Standage, Editor of the Guardian.
While discussing the future of books, Johnson noted he now has over 600,000 Twitter followers and the new paradigm for books is ‘twitter to blog to Amazon’ and one click opportunities which now account for 20% of the book industry. This was a glimpse into how people now choose to read.
There are now low barriers to entry for authors, publishers and readers alike, and all are true winners in this shift, with content as king, and accessiblilty for writing, publishing, perusal, purchase and reading, all potentially online. This means that your creativity, courage, collaboration and communication skills as a thinker and, yes, as a leader can be rewarded by the simpicity with which your message can be conveyed, and the ease with which you can stay current with the latest releases.
One author at the Book Expo America announced his book idea to a friend and a mere 62 days later it had been completed and had the attention of the New York Times. It is a wonderful time to be writing books, expressing ideas and experiencing collective output as a reader. Now is your time to write, read, write, read and write.
Calling all leaders: You have the opportunity to attend a one-of-a-kind LEADERSHIP workshop on Friday, July 10 from 1-4 pm at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh PA! Don’t miss out!
Registration is now open for a full afternoon program where you will explore your leadership capability and grow your leadership potential. Leadership belongs to everyone, leadership belongs to you.
Register now for the ‘How to Think Like a Leader Workshop’. Executive coach and licensed psychologist Rosemarie Perla and I will be leading a workshop which is designed to transform you and the power of your influence, through personal, leadership and business development opportunities. You will:
- Explore personal approaches that form a leadership foundation
- Examine the planning process from a strategic vantage point
- Experience the underlying elements of interaction and impact
- Extend your leadership capacity through influencing change
Practice this sequential progression, and learn how, as a leader, you can clarify your focus to optimize potential and the leadership spectrum for yourself and others. This provocative presentation will explore the realm of cognition, spirals of thinking and experience as a series of thoughts, and how they impact you as a leader.
Delve into the concepts of change and discovery from within a leadership context and framework, where individual and group leadership synergistically accelerates. Clarity and clear new processes will emerge for you, and those you impact. Join us!
Register here www.PittsburghProfessionalWomen.com, or more information call 412-221-3376
This workshop will be presented by:
Maria Berdusco, author, leadership strategist, facilitator,professional coach and founder of Leadership International. www.LeadershipInternational.com
Rosemarie Perla, psychologist, executive coach, strategic leader and founder of Perla Group. www.PerlaGroup.com
The workshop will be hosted by Beth Caldwell, community leader, author, mentor, and Executive Director of Pittsburgh Professional Women. www.PittsburghProfessionalWomen.com
WORKSHOP FEE: $49 includes Lunch, Presentation and Complimentary Copy of ‘How to Think Like a Leader’ by Maria Berdusco. Register online now at www.PittsburghProfessionalWomen.com. This workshop is open to all, everyone is welcome, and bring your entire team. For more information call Leadership International at 412-221-3376
Each attendee will receive a complimentary copy of the book, ‘How to Think Like a Leader: A Personal Guide to Change and Discovery and Why Your Thoughts Matter’ by Maria Berdusco, or the companion workbook. This book, its practical applications, and accompanying exercises will change the way you think. You will clarify your thinking to focus on essential skills and thought patterns to capture true optimal living and leading. A must read for all leaders.
The key to essential leadership today is influence, not authority. – Ken Blanchard
Conflict resolution is one of the greatest challenges of all time for mankind. Just the other day a friend with a deep sense of fear associated with ongoing global conflicts got me thinking about peace as a conscious decision that one can deliberately take. He, like many of us, has been feeling overwhelmed by all the negative information he is being bombarded with, and by the unresolved animosities people sometimes have for one another. One way he can cope with conflict is by promoting peace.
He has a decision to make. Does he allow himself to become a part of the problem, by expanding on the multitude of crises around him; the civil unrest, the injustices and overall distress, or can he become a part of the solution by making contributions that are positive, uplifting and express a sense of hope for others that in turn plays a role in peaceful outcomes. If interpersonal conflict is at the root of many of today’s most extreme challenges, then peace has to be a part of the solution.
One organization dedicated to ending conflict is the US Institute of Peace, at www.usip.org. Their goal is to not only prevent and resolve international conflict, but also to empower others with knowledge, skills, and resources to end conflict. They are directly engaged in peacebuilding efforts around the globe.
One of the most interesting components of the work of USIP is that in which the public, or everyone, can participate. They host complimentary online courses and training programs that teach the tools of peace that everyone can use on a daily basis.
Thinking about, talking about and engaging in peace is the responsibility of every leader, and like so many of the critical leadership initiatives, promoting peace is a choice.
All highly successful people work to find a way to feel, express and practice gratitude because success involves many contributors, team efforts, and support.
Good leaders find a way to acknowledge gratitude. It is important to quietly feel inward gratitude, but when actually expressed, you have found yet another powerful and rewarding practice.
When you go ahead and say thanks, both inwardly and outwardly, you are generally happy that you did.
A flow of gratitude expressed lowers your blood pressure, releases healthy, positive hormones, helps to regulate your heartbeat and makes you feel good.
Gratitude is a habit, and when you practice and convey it, its many benefits come to you time and again. These can surface in many different ways such as emotionally, psychologically and physically. Spring as the season of renewal is the time for gratitude.