leadership incorporated blog

January 25, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: A success secret from multi-millionaires who once had nothing

I recently interviewed 11 extremely successful business leaders and philanthropists, each of whom had just made a gift of a million dollars or more to a particular charitable organization. For most, this was a small gift.

While there were many points of difference, each of these leaders had made their own success, had come from having nothing. What struck me most was that they each, unprompted and in their own words, said something to the effect of: “I receive much more than I give.” One put it best:

“If people understood how much you get by giving, everyone would give.”

My first coach told me, “Whatever you want, give it away.” If you want money, give money. If you want Introductions, give introductions. If you want success, help make others successful. Want to be heard? Try listening. Want to be appreciated? Appreciate.

Most important and most difficult: do this without attachment. Don’t give saying, “Here’s your client, now where’s mine?” This is not true generosity.

Sometimes direct reciprocation takes years to arrive. Often the client, the money, the appreciation you receive comes from somewhere else.

I’ve made generosity the foundation of my business. I am frequently awestruck by the incredible opportunities that come my way as a result.

There are many ways to be generous and most don’t involve money.

Be generous with your time, attention, acknowledgements, introductions, information, wisdom, and resources. Be generous by understanding what another person or organization needs and help them to get it. Be generous in your assessments of those around you, whether business or personal.

In a certain sense, it’s all personal.

In today’s economy, driven by fear, common sense says to tighten, contract, withdraw, cut. And as we cut our budgets and resources, we constrict everything else as well. We take fewer growth-oriented meetings. We cut off new ideas and new people. We think we can’t afford anything and if we can’t afford it, we can’t afford to hear about it. We limit our opportunities. And opportunities are exactly what we need right now.

Make generosity your policy. Invite new opportunities. Find ways to be truly generous this week.

Let me know how it goes.

January 19, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: When things go wrong

One of the most powerful things we can do as leaders is to recognize that teachers surround us.

A year or so ago, I became friendly with an indie film director who had joined a network marketing organization to support herself in between projects. She had rapidly become a leader in that organization.

She’d been presenting to small rooms of people with great success.

I’d been invited to her first presentation in front of a large room of people.

People had come in from all over the country for the event.

They’d found an exciting location. Had thought of every possible detail.

They’d done a great job of mobilizing the team.

It was a standing-room-only turnout.

The afternoon was running like clockwork.

She’d gotten an energized introduction from another dynamic leader in the company.

She had bounded forward, instantly commanding the attention of everyone in the room.

She clicked on the controller to activate the Powerpoint and…


The screen was blank.

I will never forget what happened next, both for the speed with which it happened and the clarity of her action.

I learned something that will stick with me the rest of my life.

It took her less than a nanosecond.

She clenched both fists in the air and pulled them into her body in a victory gesture.

She didn’t exactly shout, but there was a plenty of energy in her next word:

“Excellent!” she said. “I hated that Powerpoint anyway.”

She proceeded to create an entirely different, entirely personalized, entirely new presentation on the spot.

I’m told that they exceeded all previous meeting sales records that day.

What happens when you let the unexpected throw you?

When things go wrong – and you can expect that they will – how does your reaction add to the final outcome?

What if you chose excitement over anger? Creativity over stress?

What new productivity might become possible if you saw whatever happens as an opportunity to do it differently? To see it in a new way? To demonstrate true leadership?

Because it’s not the ability to stand in front of a room that makes a leader, it’s the ability to step into the unknown and show others how it’s done.

This week, I invite you to play with this idea. When things don’t go your way, pump your arms in the air, say “Excellent!” and see what opportunities present themselves.

Have an inspired week.

January 11, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: What is CAN’T costing you?

This week, one of my clients, a leader in her company, was presented with a huge opportunity for her company and their client.

Her first reaction? We CAN’T.

Why not?

Well…in the past, stakeholders had not been open to similar ideas.

She couldn’t ask a struggling client to step up and do their part.

She felt timeline and resources would not support moving forward.

(In this case, money wasn’t the issue, but I often hear that one, too.)

She was ready to walk away from a phenomenal possibility, based solely on her own thinking about past circumstances and current conditions.

And she was angry, disappointed, resentful, frustrated and felt powerless.

She knew this could have been a very very good thing. If only…

Can you relate?

How many times in the past year did you not move forward with an opportunity – business or personal – because of the CAN’TS in your mind?

What did not moving forward cost your business?

What did it cost you personally?

By the way, the opposite of can’t is NOT can.


When my client shifted her thinking from can’t to how might this be possible? she came up with all kinds of potential solutions:

A different approach to presenting to stakeholders.

A strategy for approaching the client.

A way to negotiate the timing issues.

She involved others from this perspective and was able to:

• Effortlessly get buy-in from the team. How might this be possible? engages people, gives them ownership, generates ideas, creates new possibilities and improves morale.

• Secure enthusiastic involvement from the client.

• Creatively solve the time issue.

And from all this…another, even greater, opportunity presented itself, that no one could have foreseen.

This opportunity took the whole project to a new level, increased everyone’s excitement and commitment and is now offering the potential for tremendous financial reward.

Can’t shuts down thinking.

Can’t closes off possibilities.

Can’t keeps you stuck where you are.

Can’t is usually fear-based.

Can’t is inconsistent with successful leadership.

I’m not saying that just because you reject the notion that you can’t do something, means that you should (we’ll talk about should another time) or have to do it.

What is most important is to:

· question your assumptions
· get clear about your vision
· know what you are (and are not) committed to
· Become willing to step into the unknown to find solutions that make your vision possible.

This week, watch how often CAN’T comes up.

See what happens when you shift to How might this become possible?

Let me know how it goes.

Sharon Rich helps people lead the way to new possibilities for themselves and their businesses. For more, visit www.leaderhshipincorporated.biz

January 4, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: The New Year Mentality

“How did we survive 2009?”
M.L., Los Angeles

“2010 has got to be better.
It can hardly get any worse.”
S.T., New York City

“I can’t wait to see the ass-end of this year!”
D.A., Chicago

Sharon Rich Over the last few weeks, I have heard from many people who are ready to kick 2009 out the door and move into the new possibilities of 2010.

How about you? Have you said something like the above in the past week or so?

Here’s something that may be useful to ponder:

2009 didn’t really exist.

Nor does 2010.

The construct of a new year is a human invention. A concept we’ve agreed (if passively) to live by.

Without this construct, there is no real difference between Dec 31 and the 364 days that preceded it and Jan 1 and the 364 days that will follow.

We use this idea annually to take a breath, reassess and start over again.

Here’s the useful part: Because the idea of a new year is something we’ve created, we have the power to recreate it whenever we want.

We can take this New Year Mentality and use it to our advantage all year long…in big and small ways…any time we need to stop, look at what’s working and what’s not working and make a fresh choice.

My friend Mark Samuel, author of Creating the Accountable Business says success is not about doing everything right, it’s about being ready to recover when things go wrong.

My friend Doug Silsbee, a pioneer in the field of presence-based leadership development, says that the best indicator for success is resilience, the ability to be effective no matter what’s going on.

We can use this New Year Mentality throughout the year to cultivate resilience in ourselves and be ready to respond when things don’t go as planned. If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that things rarely go exactly as planned.

This week, I invite you to play with your New Year Mentality. Use it at every opportunity, business and personal.

Practice makes it yours.

I hope you’ll continue to use it throughout 2010 and beyond.

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