leadership incorporated blog

May 31, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: What’s the last accomplishment you fully celebrated?

I’ve had an abundance of big and little wins lately. I’ve brought in some incredible new clients. I achieved my PCC (the next level of accreditation with the International Coach Federation), which represents 5 years of hard work and focus. I’ve completed on a number of small goals on my list. And this week is my birthday.

I notice that because I’ve been so busy — and because I wasn’t sure how to celebrate, I’ve just flowed right from one accomplishment to the next. I’ve let these events go by largely unacknowledged. I have a powerful urge to just get on with it with a “Yeah, that’s great. Next…”

This week I was working with someone who nailed an important meeting with a potential client. The moment after the words “This was the best meeting I’ve ever given,” were out of her mouth, came the BUT that took it all away.

I stopped her and reminded her to celebrate the win. Whether or not she gets the client, she deserves to celebrate the meeting. When we blow the meeting or otherwise “lose,” we spend plenty of time berating ourselves. What if we spent at least as much time celebrating when we win?

Does any of this sound familiar to you? What accomplishments, wins, milestones or important events have you not fully celebrated?

Why celebrate? There are some powerful ways celebration works for us. Read on:

Celebration replenishes our energy. Even when we love what we do, when we constantly put out energy we become depleted. Stepping out of the flow, even for a moment, to celebrate what we have created, puts something back in. The magic of celebration is that often just a little drop completely refills the fountain.

Celebration develops perspective. As in the example above, without celebrating incremental achievements, we tend to collapse everything into the outcome. So when we get a negative outcome, we lose all the positives that went into it that might serve us as we move forward. Even when we get a positive outcome, if we haven’t stopped to celebrate, we lose our vision of the steps that helped us to get there. When we stop to focus on all that we’ve done right, we retain the usefulness of those actions for future ventures.

Celebration creates success. I’m participating in an intensive marketing workshop this year. Each time I meet with my mentor, I fill out a form telling him what I want to be acknowledged for. And you know what, even though I am more or less putting the words in his mouth, hearing this other person honor my accomplishments and congratulate me — celebrate with me — doesn’t just make me feel really good (which it does), it propels me forward to my next accomplishment.

As leaders, we need to think not just of celebrating our own wins, but those of the people we  lead. This is one of the most powerful of leadership tools. It is amazing how far people will go for those who honor and acknowledge them.

So here’s what I want to do to celebrate my birthday and recent accomplishments: I want to give you the gift of this experience. Send me an email with a brief story of something you have accomplished recently and would like to be acknowledged for. I would love to celebrate it with you and honor you for this.

Looking forward to hearing from you,


May 25, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: If you’re not doing this, you’re falling behind.

Let’s see a show of hands: How many of you resist change?

I was a participant in a workshop this past weekend. As our leader brought up a fairly revolutionary concept, just entertaining the idea was a huge ask for one of the participants. We’re talking major shift in perspective and action. All the rest of us in the circle watched as this woman closed off, her body language screaming “Warning! Warning! System shut down is imminent!” Her face flushed, everything that could possibly be crossed was in serious protection mode. At one point, she couldn’t even answer the simplest of questions. We all felt compassion for her and I believe we all saw the opportunity she was missing.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had moments in which we’ve faced the difference between change we’ve chosen and change that is being thrust upon us.

The problem is that right now (and really always), change is the way of things. If you’re not in a state of change, you are falling behind.

If you are in resistance to essential change, you could unintentionally be your own — and your business’ — worst enemy.

Whether you’re a leader in an organization going through change — or are in the process of changing from one organization to another — you don’t want to be in victim mode. Your choices and decisions will be much more effective if they come from clarity and intention as opposed to fear and resistance.

So what can you do to get yourself into a state of greater openness, so you can make informed choices and not reactive ones?

The first step is to notice when you get into that clenched, resistant place. You know that feeling when your inner saboteur takes over? You can feel it in your body. And, guess what? It’s blatantly visible to others. This is not a particularly useful approach for reaching your objectives.

Here is a simple exercise to post on your wall and refer to when you hear those warnings going off:

A. Remove yourself from the pressure situation. This is key. It’s really hard to do this work in the presence of others, especially if others are freaking out.

B. Make an agreement with yourself to suspend judgment. This process is just about discovering what is true and what is possible. When it’s all said and done you may end up in the same place — only more clear and fully prepared.

C. Get out a sheet of paper and pen…when you’re in a state of resistance your mind can play tricks on you and easily get you off-track. The written word keeps you honest.

D. Write full answers to the following questions (this is just for you, so don’t worry about making it pretty.)

1. What is the essence of the change that is being asked? State it as clearly and succinctly as possible

2. What is the intended purpose of this change?

3. List all the con evidence — why is this not a good change?

4. How could it be possible that this change will be beneficial? List ALL possible ways you can think of. (Go ahead. Be positive about it for a minute. No one has to know but you. You can still decide to resist.)

5. What is the cost of changing?

6. What is the cost of not changing?

7. What role would you like to play in this change?

8. What would make this change more palatable for you?

9. What are your true options in this situation?

10. What is your next step?

E. Usually this process makes your choice pretty clear. If not, sleep on it and do it again.

Let me know how it goes.

May 17, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Is this your biggest mistake?

Over the past week, I’ve been hearing lots of talk about how far off success, money, and getting back to normal seem.

I’m talking to people who are standing on the edge of the pool, afraid to jump in because they don’t have a clear view of what their goals are and they fear going in the wrong direction and putting even more distance between them and the success they want and need.

I’m also hearing from those who know what they’re going after but feel like they’ve dived into one of those Endless workout pools — they keep swimming and swimming but the current keeps them from moving — and the struggle is starting to fatigue them.

The single biggest mistake I see almost everyone making now is putting distance between themselves and what they want — seeing themselves as separate from their goals and objectives.

We can learn a tremendous amount from people who are where we want to be. What do they do that’s different than what we are doing?

Here are 4 things that are true in all situations, which you can emulate:

People who are already where you want to be have jumped into the pool. You need to jump in and commit to a direction. Any movement is forward movement. Even if you choose a direction and end up correcting and doing a full 180, you will have learned something and will move more quickly into the right direction than by standing on the edge and waiting for a sign.

People who are already where you want to be are working in the present tense. Years ago, one of my clients was transitioning into consulting work. For months he spoke of consulting in the future tense and no work came. When he started to say “I am a consultant” and started to speak the language of his area of expertise in the present tense, work started to happen almost immediately. This is the Act-as-if Principle. It’s powerful.

People who are already where you want to be focus on the process. When we focus on the goal (and our lack of having it) we can lose our focus on the steps we need to take to reach the goal. What milestones do you need to reach to get where you want to go? Focus on reaching those and the goal takes care of itself.

People who are already where you want to be have daily habits that support their success. You know what works and what doesn’t, but especially in challenging times, we get pushed off our center. We stop trusting what we know, we look for shortcuts that end up being wild goose chases, we believe false promises and urban myths of what we have to do, and we fear putting the effort  toward what we know works…because what will it mean if it doesn’t???

Come back to your center. Develop your own list of Success Habits — and follow them consistently.They probably have something to do with self-care, relationship building and maintenance, follow-through, excellence in work habits, organization and focus.

Let me know how it goes.

May 10, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Put it into words

As new clients come to me, I always ask “What do you want?”

They often discover they aren’t prepared to answer that question. They feel they don’t know what they want anymore. They just want business to get better.

When I ask a few more questions, it becomes clear they do know what they want AND they know what they don’t want.

But they are afraid to put it into words.

They are afraid to dream right now.  They don’t want to be disappointed. They don’t want to set themselves up to fail. They don’t want to get their hopes up only to see them crash. They feel that if others can’t make it right now, why would they be able to?

As a result, they’re often moving powerfully toward what they don’t want.

Does this sound like you? What do you want that you are afraid to articulate now?

If you aren’t putting what you want to create into words, you are leaving it up to chance. Things do happen by chance. But the likelihood that chance is going to deliver exactly what you want is pretty slim. And if you haven’t articulated what you want, chance could bring it to you —and you might not recognize it!

So what can you do? Creating what you want begins with allowing yourself to see it and put it into words. It never ceases to amaze me that when I think it and say it and write it and take inspired action toward it, what I visualize comes to life more often than not.

Leading the way to success starts with a plan. To plan you must have a vision. That vision must be specific. And it starts with words.

Follow these steps to create success with words:

  1. Examine your thinking. What thoughts are getting in the way of creative action? (Ask me about a great resource for doing this!)
  2. Ask yourself the right questions. What do you want? What don’t you want? What do you really want? How might it become possible? What would you need to change for this to happen?
  3. Write it down and be specific. What you want must be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely (give yourself a deadline).
  4. Put it where you can see it. Having your goal in front of you makes it harder to forget.
  5. Use it to guide your choices. Everything you do either moves you toward your goal or away from it.
  6. Eliminate the word failure from your vocabulary. My friend Beth reminded me the other day that “From the middle success looks like failure.”
  7. Make a plan. Visualize the path from where you are to where you want to be. What needs to happen?
  8. Follow it. A mediocre plan followed consistently will do better than a brilliant plan not followed. (Of course a brilliant plan followed consistently is even better!)
  9. Everyday do at least 3 significant things that move you in the right direction.
  10. Examine your thinking again. Watch out. Your mind is tricky and will try to trip you up. Stay vigilant and keep putting it into words.

May 3, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Disheartened? Here’s how to stay in the game.

Have you ever heard of the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race? It’s the longest footrace in the world, from the Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles and finishing at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The athletes have to work harder than they have ever worked before. Most days it seems like the race will never end. They are dealing with challenges they’ve never faced. More is being asked of them than they know if they have resources for. It makes a marathon feel like a stroll around the block. At times they aren’t sure if they will survive the test.

Does this sound at all like you’re feeling right about now?

If so, you’re not alone — whether you are the CEO of an organization trying to thrive in this economy or in transition trying to find work in this economy or anywhere in between.

All week I’ve had conversations about how spent everyone feels.

Here’s a game-changing reframe.

Work is a sport. You are the athlete.

What is sport? A person or team attempting to meet a particular challenge successfully and competitively.

Sound like what you do everyday?

And why would we want to see our work in this way?

Reframing our challenges in this context can give us new approaches, tools, and perspectives that can transform not only our outcome but the process itself.

So, what can we learn from an athlete’s approach that might help us?

1. Athletes play to win. Athletes know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They are aware they’re in the game by choice. They have a drive to win. There’s something they want to be able to do or feel they’ve accomplished. They may want to prove something to themselves. Regardless, it’s always a positive, not a negative. They’re playing to win rather than playing not to lose.

2. Athletes work the mind game. They know belief in yourself is critical. They know the power of positive and negative thought and so are intentional in their thinking. (Ask me about a life-changing tool for developing this ability.)

3. Athletes know their body is their primary instrument of success. They understand it and take care of it, making sure to get appropriate rest, nutrition, stretching, and whatever else their body needs to perform at its peak. This is every bit as true in business as in sport. No matter what we’re doing: pitching new business, leading a meeting, writing a proposal, putting together a budget, composing email — we can?t do it without our bodies. Particularly when we are pushing ourselves beyond our prior capacity, we need our body’s support. Treat it like the athlete it is. It makes a difference in your focus, your stamina, and your end result.

4. Athletes learn and adapt. They listen to their bodies, their coaches, their trainers, the weather. We, too, have a constant flow of valuable information which can affect our performance available to us. Listen to the people around you. Especially those you tend to tune out. Also, listen to your body and intuition. That knot in your stomach. The tightness in your chest. The energy when things are cranking and you’re in the zone. It will tell you when you’re being lied to. When you’re wasting your time. When you’re heading in the right direction. When you’ve made a wrong turn.

5. Athletes set their own best pace. No one else can do this for you. Setting your pace requires holding an awareness of both the entirety of the challenge ahead and the present moment simultaneously. It means having a plan that you stick to with consistency, even when unexpected challenges arise.

6. Athletes enjoy the process. To go the distance you must find a way to enjoy even the most difficult parts of the process.

7. The greatest athletes don’t focus on winning. They focus instead on making each step count. John Wooden, legendary coach for the UCLA Bruins never once told his players to win a game. Yet they were the winningest team in the history of college basketball. Wooden focused them on the details, practicing and perfecting each move. If you do this, make the components of what you do count, make sure they are meaningful and purposeful, make each step the best it can be, all those steps put together can’t help but lead you to the excellence and success that you have in mind.

welcome to the team,


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