Category Archives: Elise Mitchell

In The Turn

Why Do You Lead? 4 Things to Remind Yourself When the Going Gets Tough

Leaders often carry a heavy weight. While leadership has its rewards, the reality of the role can hit you pretty hard at times.

I’m sure there have been many nights you’ve laid in bed, wide awake, trying to think through an issue that was so complex, you weren’t sure any answer would be sufficient. Or you were so worn down from resolving conflicts, you couldn’t find the strength to put out yet another fire. Or you were missing so many family activities because of work, your children were surprised when you showed up at all.

That’s when the doubts creep in. You start to wonder: Is this worth it? Do the rewards of leadership outweigh the burdens?

We all face dark times as leaders. I can think of several crossroads in my career when I thought I just couldn’t do this anymore. Yet as I reflected upon the things that mattered most to me – such as having an opportunity to impact others, or building a company that was a force for good — I knew in my heart I was still in the game and wanted to try again to lead at my best.

What motivates you?

What about you? Why are you on the journey of leadership? I encourage you to think about this question beyond the traditional rewards of success, such as money, power and fame. These are well-deserved rewards for your hard work. But they don’t last, they don’t completely satisfy, and taken to an extreme, they can fundamentally change you into a person you don’t want to become. Answering the question in a different way will get you thinking at another level, about those things that have deeper meaning to you and are intrinsically motivating. This is more along the lines of having a clear sense of purpose for your leadership.

Having a purpose that is both aspirational by design and more meaningful than these other rewards can not only help you push through the tough times, it can lift you to heights you never dreamed possible.

But in the throes of challenge and change, it helps to simply remind yourself why leadership matters.

Why leadership matters

If you’re going through some tough times right now, take a look at these four reasons many leaders choose to lead. Hopefully some will inspire you and spur your thinking about “Why I Lead.”

  • It’s a calling Many leaders feel called to their role, that they are in a certain place at a certain time in their life when they can make a meaningful contribution. I have often felt I was drawn to the business world not just through my natural curiosity and interest in business, but also because I wanted the opportunity to lead using my values and my faith to guide me. I wanted to find a different way to lead that was more rewarding and effective than leading by fear or stepping on others to get where I wanted to go.Do you feel called? And if so, to do what?
  • You are a catalyst As a leader, you are in often in a position to create opportunities for others because of the knowledge, contacts, and wisdom you have gained.You can make a decision to hire someone and give him or her an opportunity that could change the course of their career. You can choose to thoughtfully and intentionally coach someone who is under your wing, investing in their professional development and helping them grow as a leader. You can put in a good word for someone or make an introduction that would give them a professional relationship they might not otherwise gain on their own.How can you be a catalyst for someone else? What can you offer to do for someone deserving of an opportunity you can provide?
  • You get to build new things When you are driven by a goal or a mission that compels you, you can go through almost anything. Building something new can be that kind of motivator, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of its importance.One of the most rewarding responsibilities of leadership is mobilizing a team and leveraging resources to build new things. Products, services, programs, companies – many of the things you have the opportunity to create can bring real value to others. Customers have a new solution that makes their life better because of your ability to bring something to market. Employees have a meaningful job and a workplace because of a company you helped build from scratch. Your community is a nicer place to live and work because of a non-profit initiative you helped bring to life.What are you building? Can you see the value of it? What can you do to remind yourself and your team of how their daily work is making a difference for others?
  • You can be the change Leadership affords one of the greatest opportunities to have impact in the world — on people, companies, causes and society. As a leader you will find yourself in unexpected situations where you can make a difference, if you have the courage and conviction to do so.You will have opportunities to take a stand for something right when no one else will. You will have the choice to make tough decisions with heart and empathy for others, living up to honorable and worthy principles such as fairness, respect and kindness.It’s a privilege to lead. The question is what will you do with the platform you have? How can you shape the future and be the change you want to see?

There are many other motivations you might be thinking about. Write down your ideas and continue to reflect upon them. Create your own list of “Why I Lead” (see bonus exercise below.) Use this as an encouragement during tough times and most importantly, to help you stay on your leadership journey, no matter where the road leads from here. The best is yet to come.

BONUS Exercise: “Why I Lead”

Clarifying your purpose involves many things, such as identifying your passions, your talents, your values and considering other forces at work in your life. But you can get one step closer to knowing your purpose by defining what motivates you most.

If you’re ready to think more deeply about what motivates you to lead, I’ve got a brief exercise for you.

  1. Review the list above “why leadership matters” to consider some common reasons people choose to lead beyond the traditional rewards of money, power and fame.
  2. As you read through the list, write down whatever thoughts come to mind. Perhaps one or more of the reasons will resonate with you or spur some thinking of your own.
  3. Keep your notes in a safe and readily accessible place such as Evernote, your phone or a journal.
  4. Reflect upon your ideas, then set them aside. Come back to them in a few days and refine your thinking further until you have come up with your own list: “Why I Lead.”
  5. Use this list as an encouragement during tough times and to guide your thinking about your next leadership opportunity. Feel free to update the list over time as your motivations will change.
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In The Turn

The Authentic Leader’s Toolkit: 5 Ways to Cultivate Greater Authenticity in Your Daily Leadership

Do you know someone at work who comes across as a fake?  One of the worst mistakes you can make as a leader is trying to be something you’re not. Any positive results are almost certainly short-lived. And when it’s carried to an extreme, you can become a destination leader who is focused on someone else’s destination.

Authentic leadership is a powerful – and increasingly more common – style of leadership built on the idea of being who you are, and then striving to become the best you can be.

But how do you bring your best – and whole – self to work?  Let’s take a closer look at what makes someone an authentic leader and how you can cultivate greater authenticity in your daily leadership style.

 

Qualities of Authentic Leaders

When you think about what makes an authentic leader, what qualities come to mind?

Transparency, Great listening skills, Self-awareness, perhaps?

Authentic leadership can be defined in many ways, and it is a style of leadership that has been studied for a number of years. It was first introduced in the 1960s as management theorists were thinking about what makes an authentic company. Then in the early 2000s, Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, wrote two books on the subject: Authentic Leadership and Discover Your True North.

In his first book Authentic Leadership, Bill George defined the concept as leaders who had the ability to incorporate certain characteristics into their leadership style:

  • Purpose– Authentic leaders have a deep sense of purpose for their leadership, they really search to understand their focus and what they can uniquely contribute
  • Values – They are true to their core values, they know what they believe in and live up to that consistently in all they say and do
  • Head/heart– Authentic leaders lead with their hearts as well as their heads, they are willing to show some emotion and empathy
  • Relational – They invest in others over time, they are loyal and patient with people, and they strive to do what is right and best for others not just for themselves
  • Self-disciplined, focused on getting results– Authentic leaders work hard and help others stay focused on the most important goals that must be accomplished

As you look at George’s list, how does it sound to you?  I like it, but I also wondered: Does this mean every authentic leader has to be the same?

 

Be Yourself

No, definitely not. That would be the opposite of what being “authentic” means. There are all kinds of leaders, each person has their own style and voice. So we can each strive to attain these qualities George outlines, but we don’t have to exhibit them in the same way.

For example, you may be very passionate and demonstrative in sharing your purpose while others will show this through dedication and hard work.

We all have many different values as leaders. Or we may have a unique sense of purpose for our leadership that is unlike other leaders. That’s good, and again, really illustrates that we can – and should— bring our uniqueness into our leadership.

What can you do to be a more authentic leader?

 

Authentic Leadership Toolkit

Interestingly, George’s second book True North, considered this question of whether there is a cookie-cutter mold for authentic leadership. He and his team interviewed 125 leaders between the ages of 23 and 93 to find out how they were becoming authentic leaders.

While many of them were very different, there were some similar things they did to be uniquely themselves.

Based on their study findings and a few of my own thoughts on authentic leadership, here are a few tools and tips on how you can bring your most authentic self forward in your leadership journey.

 

  1. What’s your story?

You can use your own unique life experiences to inform your style. Your childhood or perhaps a defining event that has shaped who you are today. What if you were applying for a promotion at work and I asked you to tell me about something that happened to you that helped define who you are today – what would you tell me?

It’s important to have a way to share your life story and to have clarity yourself about who you are today because of it.

 

  1. Define your values

Use your personal values to guide your actions and decisions. Have you ever written down your values?  Most people have four or five words that really capture what they believe in.

I encourage you to go through that process if you haven’t already. Find some think time to reflect on this over the next several days, if you can, and jot down a few words.

When you put all the words together, does that capture the essence of what means the most to you?  I think you’ll find this to be a really powerful experience to help define your authenticity as a leader.

 

  1. Listen to your inner voice

It’s critical that you learn to listen for and to your own voice rather just the opinions of others to guide your leadership path. Authentic leaders have a strong internal drive and clarity that can be louder than the voice of others.

I have a friend who was being marginalized at work due to a merger; she decided to do something about it. She became board chair of a major non-profit with some high-profile aspects of it. She also applied for and was accepted into a fellowship program that gave her exposure to other community and business leaders.

These things helped change how she felt about herself and helped her take back her future, regain some control over her own development as a leader. Eventually, this move led her to a very prestigious job as a CFO in a prominent organization.

 

  1. Keep both feet on the ground

Leaders who lose touch with reality and stop listening to honest feedback from others struggle to remain authentic. Instead, you should rely on your trusted advisors, family and friends to help you stay grounded. Let them help you maintain a sense of humility.

They can also help you find some balance between your personal and professional life. Sometimes you lean into family, sometimes into work. Each will let you know when they need you. We should give each other permission to respond in order to keep both parts of our life nurtured and growing.

 

  1. Live a full life

You also need to find time for you – to have a hobby or personal interest, to find a way to maintain your physical, mental and spiritual health. Engaging in the things you love allows you to stay in touch with your true self. Finding joy in our personal passions is essential if you’re going to make it all the way on this leadership journey without burning out.

 

Becoming an authentic leader may require a change on your part, plus some time and effort. But having a learner’s mindset is the key. When you’re willing to learn as you go, you will continue to grow and become the best you can be.

 

 

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In The Turn

From Unproven to Unprecedented: How to Get Buy-in For Something That’s Never Been Done Before

 

Doing something new and different sounds exciting. But it’s almost never easy. In fact, it can be downright lonely as you work to convince the world of the beauty and wonder of your great idea.

It’s always harder than it seems in real life. Whether you’re launching a startup or creating a new approach to a persistent problem, it takes more than a passionate speech to get buy-in from influential champions for your cause. If it’s new, it’s unproven. And risky. And no matter how much you believe in it, your passion will only take you so far.

So, how can you win over customers, influencers and decision-makers for something that’s never been done?

I had the privilege of building a company from scratch, so I’m very familiar with the inevitable challenges of launching something new. And my good friend Lauren Wesley Wilson founded ColorComm, a business community for women of color in the communications industry. So, we sat down recently to talk about what it takes to go from unproven to unprecedented success.

Here are 6 takeaways from that conversation you can apply to your own launching pad.

1. Meet an unmet need – This is the one of the best places to start when thinking up new concepts, so look for the opportunity to position your idea in this way. Show how your solution delivers something unique, or how you can do it better, faster or cheaper than an existing solution.Lauren saw that women of color lacked opportunities in the communications industry. While supporting women in business isn’t new, focusing on women of color is. Lauren developed a vision for ColorComm, shared it with others and generated a lot of interest for meeting an unmet need.

2. Adapt and evolve – Very rarely does a successful idea look the same from launch to maturity. Most go through numerous revisions and adaptations, responding to market dynamics and customer feedback. We certainly have pushed – and still push – Mitchell Communications to evolve to serve our clients’ ever-changing needs. You have to, or you’ll get left behind.Once she had ColorComm up and going, Lauren learned the importance of listening to her supporters to find ways to improve the organization. “At the beginning, I was focused on realizing my vision,” said Lauren. “But over time, as I listened to others, I heard them bring new ideas forward. For example, they wanted resources and a community to help them when they faced challenges in their careers.”

Lauren used that feedback to develop new services for members that led to more business opportunities, advanced programming, and a talent initiative.

3. Earn trust – Overcoming the skepticism of others is one of the biggest obstacles when launching something new. Demonstrating your credibility and reliability is particularly difficult if people don’t know you or haven’t worked with you. They’re taking a chance on you, not just your product.

David Maister, author of The Trusted Advisor, created the trust equation as a powerful way to illustrate what it takes to earn trust:

Source: trustedadvisor.com

Each of these factors is critical to earning trust, but reliability can be particularly important if you don’t have a long track record. If that’s the case, start with a smaller ask that has a quicker payback and then deliver an early win.

In the early stages of launching her big idea, Lauren said she focused on showing others they could count on her, that she could do the work, and that she had staying power and determination.

“Many new organizations are not sustainable,” said Lauren. “People wonder if you’ll be around next year. You have to show some results as quickly as possible to give them confidence to invest in you for the long-run.”

4. Move with speed – In the early stages of a project, move quickly to seize opportunity, especially when the competition is stiff. This requires you to be available, responsive and accessible.

In the early years of Mitchell Communications, we often turned projects at breakneck speed – sometimes overnight, if needed. This was a competitive advantage because our competition, while more established, was too big and too slow.

Lauren said that type of agility also helped her build an effective team, earn sponsorship support and recruit top executives for her board.

5. Deal with “no” – There are those who simply won’t share your confidence in your idea, and that can be hard to take. That’s why founders and innovators must be resilient and thick skinned.

“You’re not going to appeal to everyone,” said Lauren. “Accept that fact from the beginning, and instead concentrate your efforts on searching for your audience. It can be scary to champion an untested idea, but you have to put yourself out there.”

If you are authentic and your passion shines through, the naysayers won’t get you down and your confidence will spread. “This will win others over,” Lauren said, “and trickle down to your team.”

6. Take smart risk – It’s tough to know when and how to take risk when starting something new. So much is on the line. Lauren’s experience shows you must consider several things:Your intuition – Follow your gut. There are times you will just know it is the right thing to do.

  • Your intuition – Follow your gut. There are times you will just know it is the right thing to do.
  • Balance your emotions with reasoning – There are times you will want something so badly. But some of the most important factors — like timing, audience, resources – aren’t there yet. In that case, you must be patient and wait for a better opportunity.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail – Fear of failure is one of the biggest reasons people don’t take risk. But you can’t fixate on it. Lauren learned to think of failure as a catalyst for growth. “If we fail, how can we recover quickly, learn from our mistakes and never make them again. We’re hurting ourselves and our organization if we don’t learn. That’s just how you grow.”

BONUS

What’s the best piece of advice a mentor ever gave you?

Focus. Don’t get caught up in distractions or try too hard to prove yourself. Concentrate on doing what is most important. You know what you need to do. Do it. — Lauren Wesley Wilson

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In The Turn

6 Ways to Own the Room and Project Confidence as a Speaker

You look around and see all eyes are on you. Your heart is beating quickly. You’re having trouble catching your breath. The sense of fear and dread is overwhelming.

Although it feels like you’re facing judge and jury, it’s really just your turn to present at a meeting. For many people, though, that’s just as bad – if not worse.

Public speaking is one of the least liked and most feared leadership responsibilities. Few of us come by it naturally; most have to work hard at becoming competent and confident in front of a room.

But how you speak publicly matters. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of the book “Executive Presence: This Missing Link Between Merit and Success,” exuding confidence and demonstrating gravitas when you speak are critical components of your executive presence. Presence alone won’t get you promoted, but its absence will impede your career momentum and trajectory.

What’s at stake

How would you rate yourself as a speaker? Are you at your best front-and-center, or do you feel like you’re going to be sick by the time you step to the microphone?

Near the top of most leaders’ wish lists is a desire to own the room when they speak. We want to be our best because the stakes are often high when we are front and center:

  • Others form perceptions of us – Is she smart? Can I trust him? Is this someone I admire and respect? Business decisions are made — Performing well in that moment can determine important things, such as whether or not you get your team’s much-anticipated plans for a new project approved.
  • Business decisions are made – Performing well in that moment can determine important things, such as whether or not you get your team’s much-anticipated plans for a new project approved.
  • We want to avoid embarrassment – A very common fear in the business world is public failure. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of others. This is particularly true when we are presenting to those whose opinion matters most, which is often our peers and supervisors.
  • Career-making moments happen – Your boss may simply decide you’re just not “executive enough” for that next promotion.

Owning the room

Whether you are making a formal presentation, participating in a group discussion, or having a one-on-one with your supervisor, there are definitely things you can do to present yourself in a self-assured manner.

Here are six ways you can improve your presentation effectiveness and own the room.

1. Serve the audience with an “adviser’s mindset” – Start by reminding yourself: It’s not about you; it’s about them. Set aside your constant worry about “what’s at stake” and focus your attention on meeting the needs of your audience. That’s why you’re speaking after all – to share something useful with them. If you can effectively give your audience what they need to hear, the “what’s at stake” list will take care of itself.

2. Know your material – When you prepare for a presentation, you must give yourself plenty of time to develop and learn your material. I start days – usually even weeks — in advance to flesh out my content. I think through what objections my audience might have that I need to overcome, what points I believe they need to hear in order for them to think, behave, decide, reflect in the way I want them to.

Once I have my content organized, I refine my notes or script, read it through numerous times, and practice out loud at least 4 or 5 times. The point is, I prepare well enough that I know my material inside and out. It’s ingrained in my head, and in fact, much of it is memorized by the time I speak.

When you know your material this well, your confidence soars – because you know exactly what you have to say, where it comes in the presentation, and what’s next. You never worry about losing your place or forgetting a key point, because you know it that well. Plus, most of the time you can have your (well organized) notes or script to prompt you if needed.

3. Believe in your message – Too many speakers shy away from putting any real energy into their presentation. Their voice is flat, their face is creased with worry, and they’re more focused on their PowerPoint than the audience. You’ll never own the room if you present like this.

Instead, bring some passion and confidence to your presentation, which is easier to do if you believe in your message. Even if it’s just quarterly performance numbers, challenge yourself to ask and answer:

  • Do I firmly believe in what I have to say?
  • Does my audience need to hear this?
  • What else would help them understand a deeper truth?
  • Is there a bigger goal that could be accomplished through this presentation that I am passionate about?

Then don’t just state the obvious. Say something that matters. Provide some context or perspective that sheds new light. Ladder up to a bigger message or important takeaway that your audience should get from you. Have a clear point of view.

Finally, bring this powerful content to life with a poised delivery. Stand tall. Smile. Use eye contact with the audience in every part of the room. Gesture to underscore a point. Walk around. Pause for emphasis to let something sink in. Your body language and demeanor telegraph your confidence (or your fears) just as much as your words. When you truly believe in your message, your energy will be there and your delivery will reflect that.

4. Speak only when you have a meaningful contribution to make – This is a critical tip for projecting confidence in small-group meetings. Think about that one person who talks so frequently that everyone just tunes them out. To avoid that kind of reaction when you speak, learn to be a thoughtful and intentional communicator in group settings.

What does that look like?

  • When you want to speak up, don’t simply restate what others have said; offer something unique. Ask a question that will help enhance the discussion and help the group consider new information.
  • Share an example or case study you know of that will bring forward a valuable learning.
  • Acknowledge someone in the room who you know has expertise that should be included.
  • Pick your battles. Don’t be the constant whiner or nay-sayer that brings everyone down. Go along with group decisions and be supportive whenever possible. Then when you have an important objection or alternative to offer, you’ll have more credibility to sway the group your way.

5. Grab their attention with a story – Our brains are wired for narrative. We love nothing more than for someone to say “I’ve got a story to share with you…” It makes us want to lean back, close our eyes and go on a journey.

Storytelling is a powerful presentation technique that anyone can use to their advantage. Compelling stories grab our attention, reveal an insight, and help us remember a speaker’s message. I often use my love of motorcycling to bring my messages to life and make them more memorable. You know how to tell stories, too. The trick is finding the right story to tell AND tying it to your overall message.

Start by brainstorming a creative way to underscore your message. For example, reaching a big goal could be illustrated by a story of a remarkable achievement such as the Iron Man competition or a famous scientific discovery. If your overarching message is the importance of teamwork, share a story from the world of sports or your own company’s history.

Once you have a relevant story, introduce it early on in your presentation. Then tie it to your overall message by saying “The same is true for us” or “What we can learn from this is…” Then weave the theme throughout your presentation, using creative imagery or references just enough to tie it all together.

6.Get to the point – Unless you’re telling a well-crafted story, don’t be verbose. People lose patience with speakers who can’t get to the point in a timely manner, especially in meetings.

Naturally, you need to strike a balance with including useful supporting information, exchanging niceties and building rapport with others. But in general, stick to the issue at hand. Make your point or ask a question, and that’s it.

When you learn to be concise, others will be more willing to give you time to speak and consider what you’ve shared.

I hope at least a few of these tips are helpful. I encourage you to give them a try on your next presentation. Then let me know – I’d love to hear how you increased your confidence and got one step closer to owning the room.

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In The Turn

Last Crop in Fallsville: A Lesson of Love and Compassion

Like you, I’ve been inspired by the many kindnesses shown to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Neighbor helping neighbor.

But it shouldn’t take a crisis for us to show love and compassion to those around us.

I have a favorite story about a chance encounter years ago when I was learning to ride a motorcycle – and it happened on Labor Day Weekend. It taught me a lesson I’ll never forget about the opportunity we have as leaders to impact others for good every day. Please enjoy…

“By the fall of 2009, I could confidently say I had made the turn toward a journey mindset that brought balance to my destination style of leadership. I wasn’t there—I’m still not there—but I was on a better course.

So when Labor Day weekend rolled around that September, I had no problem rolling away from my work and enjoying a ride on my bike.

Raye and I met his father, a good friend, and another couple just as the sun came up for a beat-the-heat ride through the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. Our self-appointed navigator was born and raised in these hills, so we fell in line behind his Harley as we started out from Fayetteville. The general plan—after a pit stop for biscuits and gravy in Huntsville—was a ride through Newton County, a sparsely populated county with winding highways that are quite popular among cyclists.

The first hour or two of our ride took us through small towns, some beautiful rural areas with tree-covered hillsides, sprawling farms, and tiny churches with inspiring signs like, “We use duct tape to fix everything. God used nails.”

By mid-morning, we decided to stop at a bend in the road called Fallsville. The small gravel lot had a lone white building with a single glass door, and three old-timey gas pumps. No credit card swiping here. You’re gonna have to go in, which was our intention anyway. We needed a stretch.

We discovered the only available restroom didn’t require a key—outhouses apparently don’t need that much protection. As we laughed about this, I noticed not far from us an old pickup sitting under a tree. An overall-clad gentleman was perched on the edge of the passenger’s seat with the door standing open.

Sprawling around the truck were piles of plump green-striped watermelons. I didn’t need a cutting to know they’d been picked at the height of their juicy glory. I decided to wander over for a visit, and Gentleman Gene, as I think of him now, broke into a smile at the prospect of a buyer approaching.

“How’s business,” I asked, curious if he had—or if he really expected—to sell any melons that day.

“Picking up,” he said. “They’re beauties, and better than anything you’ve ever tasted.”

Certainly a convincing argument, especially on a hot summer day.

“You raise pretty melons,” I agreed as I looked them over.

He got out of his seat and leaned on the side of the truck. The entire bed was filled with dozens more melons.

“I’m just trying to get whatever I can for them today,” he went on. “They’re not mine. They’re my neighbor’s.”

Gene, as it turned out, was a proud farmer who just couldn’t stand the thought of letting perfectly good watermelons rot in the field. So he had driven to his neighbor’s house that morning and convinced him to let him load up his truck and come to the gas station to try to find a home for as many as possible.

“Why wouldn’t your neighbor bring them himself,” I asked. Seemed like a nice but strange thing to do, hauling off your neighbor’s bounty. Was his neighbor lazy, tired of eating melons, tired of giving them away?

His answer caught me off guard. “He’s just not up to it this year. He’s got cancer pretty bad. He’ll never make another harvest. This is his last crop.”

A new appreciation for the melons flooded over me, and their natural beauty just shone. Gorgeous shades of green, smooth round skin, plump centers. Just the way they were at rest on top of each other looked as if someone had carefully placed each one in a certain spot to catch the morning’s light through the trees. I began taking pictures of them.

Gentleman Gene went on to tell me how his neighbor had lived off the land his whole life, reaping what he sowed and scraping together enough along the way to feed and clothe fourteen children. An experienced chef after a fashion, he had taught all the women in the area to make homemade sorghum molasses. Gene grinned, “I think the most he ever made in a year was $1,200. Some of it from his melons.”

No doubt.

Our conversation was interrupted by the sound of motorcycle engines. I looked past him to our group. They were putting helmets on and folding maps. Time to get going again. I thanked Gene for his story and apologized for not being able to take some melons with me.

“They don’t make saddle bags big enough for melons,” I said. “But I want you to do something for me.” He leaned forward. “Please tell your neighbor you met someone today who thought these were the most beautiful melons she had ever seen. That she took pictures of them and promised to share their beauty with others.”

He laughed. “That will make him smile, and I haven’t seen him smile in a long time.”

As we rode away, I thought about fall, but not with the welcome anticipation I’d felt that morning. Harvest is a time of plenty but it’s also a time of endings. I never used to think about things winding down in life; I was always too wound up. But of course there is a time of harvest that comes for us all. The real question is what are we harvesting?

Gentleman Gene had done his neighbor a favor, but he’d done one for me, too. It may have been a last crop, but it won’t be one that’s forgotten. ”

P.S. You’ll find this story at the end of Chapter 12 in my book “Leading Through the Turn.”

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In The Turn

How to Make the Toughest Calls of Leadership [BONUS]

The buck stops here. How true. President Truman knew it. And all great leaders embrace it. We can (and should) empower others to make decisions whenever possible. But leadership will always involve making the toughest decisions.

Having the authority to make decisions is one of the most rewarding parts of leadership, but actually making the tough calls is seldom easy.

Think about a time when the odds were stacked against you and the risk of failure was high. You didn’t have all the information you needed, yet you had to make a decision. Your team was waiting, and your organization was depending on you to provide direction. What do you do?

When we face the most complex and critical decisions as a leader, we need to recognize the fears and emotions that often hold us hostage and then lean into three powerful “must-haves” for great decision-making.

Recognize the Enemy

A wide range of emotions can cloud our judgment and hold us back when we find ourselves in those crossroads moments that we’d often rather avoid but must face as leaders.

Difficult decisions can make us feel:

  • Overwhelmed – A tidal wave can hit when the potential consequences of a decision we face are significant, we are unprepared, or we feel like we are in over our heads.
  • Anxious – Becoming overly stressed often leads to poor decision-making. The more anxiety we feel, the less likely we’ll have a clear enough head to make the best choice possible. Neuroscience shows anxiety suppresses the activity of pre-frontal cortex neurons, which play a pivotal role in cognitive functions such as calculating risk/reward, problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Indecisive – We sometimes feel paralyzed by too little or too much information. We might be unclear about which criteria we should use to help us decide. Or we might see multiple solutions that all look good.
  • Cautious – We’re hesitant to share information about a decision with others because we’re not sure things are going to turn out the way we want. We’d rather stay quiet, hedge our bets, and leave people to wonder what we decided and why.
  • Pressured – We feel pressured to decide in a certain way by others who have a stake in our decision.
  • Challenged — Similarly, no matter what we decide we know we’ll experience push-back from those who will disagree with our choice. Perhaps they will even challenge us publicly and inappropriately.

Fear rests at the heart of all these decision-making roadblocks. These fears don’t just make decisions harder than necessary, they cause us to question our instincts, project self-doubt and feel out of control. We’re then more prone to make poor decisions, and we risk losing the respect we’ve earned from others – something no leader wants.

So how do we avoid that?

Lean into the Fundamentals

Great leaders are willing to embrace uncertainty as a part of the journey, but they don’t walk down that road unprepared. They lead with authority and confidence because they know and practice the essential fundamentals that help them overcome their fears and make sound decisions.

Here are three must-haves of decision-making that have helped me deal with my most complex and challenging leadership choices:

  1. Process – Establish a tried-and-true decision-making process to help you make and manage any type of decision, but particularly more complex ones. This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. It means you’ll have guideposts and guardrails to move you forward and that you’ll make exceptions by design.
  2. Clarity – Learn to manage emotions that cloud your thoughts during decision-making so you can think clearly and rationally. The process will help with this, but you also need to do the hard work of self-awareness and emotional intelligence. This is an area where other trusted leaders can hold you accountable and help you see when your emotions are stifling your common sense.
  3. Consistency – Create patterns in your decision-making that minimize surprises and build trust. Having a standard process and managing your emotions will help you determine in advance how you will handle certain types of decisions so you can create greater consistency in your leadership.

What if you don’t have a process, or you’re looking to improve the one you have? Well, glad you asked.

I’ve created a free download that includes a detailed decision-making process, as well many of the benefits you will enjoy when you have this type of framework in place. Take a look. And here’s to better decision-making in your future.

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In The Turn

4 Ways to Achieve Greater Work-Life Balance and Become a Happier, Better Leader [BONUS]

One aspect of leadership I am asked about more frequently than almost any other – by both men and women – is work-life balance. That elusive, sometimes mythical concept that it’s possible to have a career, a family, and a life.

Can you really have it all?

As I point out in Leading Through the Turn, I believe you can have it all, just not all at the same time. But many of us still struggle with the idea of work-life balance. Why? Frankly, not much about life feels in balance:

  • Our leadership experiences are often mentally and physically exhausting.
  • We constantly give in to the temptation to focus on destinations with little to no regard for the journey of life.
  • We tend to compartmentalize things like work, family, and hobbies, rather than seeing them as interrelated.

But there is a better way. It looks more like work-life blending, a true integration of both parts of life.

Jane Lin-Baden, my good friend and colleague, is one of those leaders who artfully weaves work and personal interests into her life. Jane is the Asia-Pacific CEO for Isobar, a digital agency that is part of Dentsu Aegis Network, our global parent company. She oversees 2,500 people in 13 countries throughout the region. She’s led eye-popping revenue growth, and she and her teams have won countless awards.

But she’s also a wife and mom who enjoys boxing and making custom cosmetics. When we visited recently about the challenges and joys of leadership, Jane shared four guiding beliefs that help her successfully integrate work, family, and personal passions. These are things any of us can incorporate, regardless of where we are in our leadership journey. Read on, and I promise you’ll also discover plenty of tips for becoming a happier, better leader.

1. Be your best self (and help others do the same).

One of Jane’s primary goals – “to be my best self and to help others do the same” – reflects a selfless approach to authenticity that helps everyone involved achieve greater balance.

Being your best, both personally and professionally, leads to a more holistic view of life and a healthier perspective on how to balance the different demands you face. It also makes it so much easier for others to really get to know, understand, and follow your leadership.

And “helping others do the same” allows you to more readily create an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation for the differences in others. Learning to respect the various talents and life choices of teammates is particularly important as everyone strives to find some sense of balance between their work obligations and personal responsibilities.

“It’s important to remember that people can be in very different stages of growth and development,” Jane said. “Everyone has their own pace, and maintaining a healthy pace is crucial for a sustainable work-life experience. Leaders must help everyone be their best no matter where each person is in their personal and professional journey.”

2. Pursue your passions.

Find the time to invest in other parts of your life. This can come through hobbies, volunteer work, or other activities. We typically seek things that interest or challenge us. When we follow our hearts and pursue our passions, a boundless joy and deep sense of satisfaction complement the rewards we already receive from our work. I was inspired by how Jane integrates her many passions into her busy life. The breadth of her activities reminds us not to limit ourselves, and to look for the ways our hobbies help develop us as leaders.

  • Jane trains volunteers who assist people dealing with tragedy in their lives. Her focus on helping the brokenhearted enables her to bring empathy to the workplace. Compassion is not something found on a P&L, yet it’s a quality of many great leaders.
  • Boxing is a hobby Jane enjoys, not merely for the exercise but because it enhances her concentration skills and her ability to think on her feet. In the heat of the battle, you must keep your wits about you. You must be completely focused on what is happening and alert to the unexpected, a critical leadership skill especially in times of great change. Boxing also reinforces Jane’s belief in aiming high. When throwing a punch, you always look slightly above the point where you want to hit.
  • Jane’s love of art lives through her interest in making custom cosmetics. She enjoys the creative aspects of this hobby, which was influenced by family members who have backgrounds in chemistry. She’s created her own formula and can customize the products for friends. Thinking creatively can significantly enhance your problem-solving capabilities and enable you to bring fresh, new ideas to your work.

3. Learn from lowly tasks.

Some of the most valuable experiences in your leadership journey come from unexpected challenges and unpleasant tasks. These character-shaping moments can pay big dividends by helping you become the leader – and the person – you want to be.

Jane shared a story about a valuable lesson she learned from a rather lowly assignment while working at Sotheby’s London in her first job after college.

“I loved art,” she told me. “And I always wanted to have my own auction gallery. My very first assignment was to clean up their archive room, where they stored almost 80 years of auctioning history files. Nobody wanted to go into that room. I remember telling my mom I was too educated to be doing something so mundane.”

So Jane turned it into a post-grad research assignment.

“I decided I would lock myself in that room for six months and go through every file to better understand the industry and figure out if this was the career path for me,” she said. “I wanted to do my best and make sure that when I left that room, I would know more about it than anyone else.”

That six-month journey taught Jane the importance of tenacity, humility, and optimism. Even the lowliest of jobs has value and should be done to the best of your ability. This particular experience helped her as her career blossomed, particularly when she faced challenging situations. But she also applied those lessons in her personal life, which contributed to greater balance.

“I believe we are given certain obstacles in life specifically to refine our character,” she said. “We all must face an archive room. You must make the most of a difficult situation and learn whatever you can from it. As a leader, you are also in a position to encourage and support others who are going through something similar whether at work or at home.”

4. Make good choices. Much of leadership is about making choices and finding the best path forward. This is especially important when striking a balance between your professional and personal life.

You can’t take on everything and always expect to be your best. You must be selective, delaying or turning down some worthy opportunities so you can focus on others. Being selective about what you take on at work allows you to reserve time and energy for family and personal pursuits. Likewise, being intentional about your personal obligations allows you to minimize unnecessary stress when time demands and schedules collide.

Jane makes choices at work easier for herself and her team by establishing a clear vision and goals. This enables everyone to keep their focus where it should be and to say “no” to things that only distract from reaching those goals.

At home, she involves her family when making major decisions about her career. For example, when Jane was offered the CEO role, she sat down with her family to weigh the pros and cons. “I needed them to know what the trade-offs would be, because we are a team and I knew we were going to go through them together.”

The lesson here is powerful: Life is short, and how we spend our time has a great impact on those around us. We are accountable to more than just ourselves. We are also accountable to our teams at work and to our families at home. Consider both when you make key decisions.

Download our leadership cheat sheet outlining these four guiding principles and 13 tips for becoming a happier, better leader here.

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In The Turn

5 Ways Hobbies Can Help You Live and Lead at Your Best

What are your hobbies?

You can tell a lot about a leader by the way they answer that question.

If you’d asked me a few years ago what my hobbies were, I would have said I didn’t have any because I didn’t have the time. The truth is, I didn’t make the time. I chose to spend nearly every waking moment building my company – to the detriment of my family, my health and my friendships.

I knew that needed to change. You have to find the “off” switch. Everyone wants to live a richer, fuller life. But when you allow work to take precedence over everything, you risk experiencing burnout, anxiety and depression. Not to mention relationship stress.

And if your happiness and self-worth are tied up exclusively in your professional success, at some point along the way I promise you are going to be disappointed.

These are some of the many reasons why you should engage fully in the rest of your life. But did you know that pursuing activities you love also helps you be a better leader? Here are five ways hobbies can help you bring your “A” game to your professional life while invigorating and inspiring your personal life.

1. Hobbies help you think better. Hobbies allow you to refresh, recharge and see things in new and different ways. In fact, a higher functioning brain allows you to be a more critical and creative thinker – science proves it. When we engage in activities that bring us joy and enrichment, it activates a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This area of the brain controls how we feel about life, good or bad. It’s where we process motivation, reward and pleasure. We also activate thousands of neurotransmitters in our brain that allow us to sharpen our focus and become energized around one activity.

With science like this, it’s no wonder some of the greatest leaders of our time engage in fun and creative hobbies. Richard Branson enjoys kite surfing. Steve Wozniak engages in Segway polo. And Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, is mastering the art of the flying trapeze.

2. Experience the exhilaration of “flow.” When we become totally immersed in things we love, the worries of the day fade and our inner critic is silenced. We feel focused and competent. We perform at our best. This sense of flow is often described by others as being “in the zone.” Flow can give us the confidence and energy to tackle other more challenging aspects of our lives, particularly in our work.

3. Develop more of a can-do spirit. Even if you love what you do, the routine of working all the time can feel relentless – even monotonous. You can become set in your ways and less willing to take risk. Trying a new hobby can help you break out of that mindset. Take painting lessons or learn to kayak. Try your hand at woodworking. You’ll have a bounce in your step as you develop new skills. That can-do attitude will empower you to be more innovative at work, too, and willing to try new things.

4. Become more resilient. To get good at something, you need to try, fail, learn and repeat. And as you keep trying, you become smarter and better. More resilient. The type of dogged determination that helps you learn how to climb trails or run a marathon will help you deal more effectively with challenges you face in your career.

5. It’s where you’ll get your best ideas. One of the greatest benefits of having hobbies is the way your mind is freed to think creatively. We’ve all heard our best ideas come to us when we’re in the shower or out on a bike ride. This is because we’re relaxed, we’re focused on something enjoyable, and our bodies release positive chemicals like endorphins and dopamine into our brains, which give us a burst of energy and creative thinking. You can take these ideas into your workplace and find ways to bring them to life.

J. J. van der Leeuw, a Dutch author who spent much of his life exploring philosophical and theological ideas, got it right when he said, “The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced.”

When I realized I needed to change my relentless focus on the destination, I did. I found hobbies that helped me find joy in the journey — like motorcycling and riding alongside my husband, Raye. I took up running, one of the joys of my youth, and completed my first half marathon in 2009. I learned to fly fish and have also begun to study photography.

These things are meant to be experienced, not accomplished. But they also helped me become a better (and happier) leader.

So the lesson is this: Find hobbies you enjoy that can help you live a richer, fuller life. Chances are, they’ll also help you lead at your best.

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In The Turn

Mastering the Art of Delegation: Five Steps for Letting Go and Empowering Others

The idea of delegation goes back forever.

As communities formed, tasks were delegated based on skills and experiences that would best help the group. Some hunted. Some gathered. Some drew stick figures on the walls in caves. As cultures evolved into villages, cities, kingdoms, and empires, the delegation evolved with it. Not only did people gravitate toward certain roles, but they found that delegation provided a way to train new leaders (and other workers) for the roles that were essential for survival.

As old and proven as this solution is, however, it’s still one leaders struggle with, especially during times of growth. This is when you, as a craftsman, have to challenge yourself to grow into the role of a real leader—someone who can let go and empower and equip others around you.

People who really like to be in control and who are really good at what they do often struggle to hand things off to others. And when they do, they face the temptation to jump back in and take over at the first sign of trouble. “I can do it quicker.” “I can do it faster.” “I can certainly do it better than this team because I’m the master craftsman.” “I’m the one that designed this program or built the relationship with this client or developed this process.”

But when you turn roles and responsibilities over to other people, you have to give them the good stuff that goes with it. You must release them to lead. You can’t give somebody a responsibility but take the credit for what happens when they do their job. Or you can’t give somebody a client relationship but hold on to it so the client still keeps calling you.

There’s one key principle I’ve learned over time that has helped me solve my most painful delegation problems, and it’s this:

Focus on what only you can do and give the rest away.

As a leader, you may know how to do lots of things, but that doesn’t mean you should regularly do them all. In fact, continuing to do them won’t get you or your business where you want to go. In other words, what got you here won’t get you there.

So what should you give away?

All the good stuff – power, authority, credit, recognition, relationships, information, resources, knowledge, you name it. Everything you’ve worked so hard to get!

And that’s the challenge. That’s why so many leaders hit the wall at this point and can’t push through. They become a leader who holds tightly. But only by releasing and empowering others will you have the opportunity for exponential success – achieving goals far greater than you can achieve on your own and that you and your team will receive high praise for accomplishing.

Once you’ve given the good stuff away, there’s much more good stuff for you to focus on – and it’s those things only you can do and that bring the greatest value to the business. High impact, strategic items like developing a detailed growth plan for the business, investing in your top talent to get them to the next level, or putting in place a more robust strategy for driving revenue. Whatever it is, there are likely many more important things for you to tackle than what you’re doing now.

Five steps for effective delegation So how do you effectively hand things off? Here are five steps you can take to be a leader who releases.

  • Step 1: Consider what tasks someone else could take on. Start by making a list of the projects and ongoing responsibilities you are currently handling that another person on your team – or a new person all together — could assume if given the right resources, authority and ramp-up time.
  • Step 2: Assess the strengths of others. Next, make sure you have a clear understanding of your team members’ individual capabilities. This will allow you to determine who might be best suited to take on a new responsibility. In addition, you must also understand their interests and career goals for the long-run. This will allow you to give someone a stretch assignment that will allow them to grow in an area they would like to develop.
  • Step 3: Empower your team. Armed with a list of the projects and responsibilities you are willing to give to your team, make the match. Determine what to give to whom. Then once you’ve thought it through, arrange a time to meet with each person and share the new assignments you propose to give to them. Ask for their feedback, and gain their agreement on when/how the transition will happen. Announce the new responsibilities to the larger team to bring positive attention to those who are stepping up and to motivate others to be next.
  • Step 4: Coach for the win. Once you’ve handed something off, stay close enough to coach your team through the early stages of assuming responsibility. Resist the temptation to take something back at the first stumble. Instead, provide real-time feedback, ask clarifying questions, and offer support. This will allow your team to course-correct, gain confidence and continue moving forward in their new roles.
  • Step 5: Write a new job description for yourself. Now that you’ve shared responsibilities with others, consider what you can and should focus on going forward. Include these bigger-picture items as key responsibilities in your new job. Share these ideas with your supervisor or like-minded peers for feedback and refinement. Focus on these new tasks with a learner’s mindset, and use this opportunity to grow and develop new skills and capabilities for yourself.

If you don’t truly release leaders—if you don’t empower, equip, and enable them—you’ll discover that the talented, capable, smart people you worked so hard to get on your team will soon leave for some other team. And they should, because you aren’t providing opportunities for them to reach their destinations and enjoy their journeys. Why would anyone stay with somebody who’s selfish, driven by power, and hungry for credit?

That’s not the type of leader I want to be. I want to help people around me grow. I want to watch them soar. When you do that as a leader, you keep great people on your team and you engender loyalty, confidence, and commitment from them. They’ll walk through fire for you because you’re helping them grow and shine, too. Not coincidentally, that’s when your organization not only grows and shines, but soars.

I hope this post inspires you to become a leader who releases — not only for the benefit of others, but for your own growth, too. Because as you put this into practice, you’ll find you are releasing with one hand while reaching out to grasp new opportunities with the other.

The cycle of growth continues when you lead by letting go.

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In The Turn

The Ultimate Guide to Leading and Living with Purpose

“The journey matters as much as the destination.”

Well-intentioned people like to remind those of us who are driven souls about this advice. But I never bought it.

I’m a destination person by nature. In business, family life — you name it. I like to know where I’m going and how I’m going to getting there. The rest is just scenery, right?!

Sound familiar? Perhaps this is you – or someone you know.

I’ve reached a lot of destinations I’ve set my sights on. Probably the biggest one was spending the last 20 years building a company from scratch and selling it to a global organization. And we reaped some great rewards from that.

So don’t get me wrong. Entrepreneurship has been the ride of my life. But chasing that big dream almost cost me far more.

STOPPED SLEEPING

There was a time when all I thought about was winning at work… until an interesting thing happened a few years ago.

As my business was growing rapidly and things were going really well … I stopped sleeping. No trouble going to sleep. But at 2:30 or 3 a.m., I was wide awake.

Dealing with all my work concerns, sure, but also asking myself one question that was burning in the back of my brain and would never go away: “Is this all there is?”

That’s a frightening thing to face if you’re a destination person. I knew I had dreams and plenty of drive. But I had always defined myself by my achievements.

If the destination wasn’t worth reaching, what was I striving for?

(CONTINUE BLOG POST)

MISSING THE JOURNEY ALONG THE WAY

I have found one answer that has helped turn me around. And it’s this:

It isn’t that the destination is not worth pursuing. But in my pursuit of the destination, I had missed the journey.

Maybe if I could make the journey matter more, I could reclaim my life and find deeper purpose in my work.

So how can we make the journey matter? There are many things we can do, but I want to take a closer look at two areas of your life – the BIG two — your work life, and your personal life. And share some tips that have really worked for me.

I’ve also prepared a free download called “Journey Line: A Leader’s Guide to Finding Purpose.” This is a powerful tool that will help you gain clarity about your purpose and the kind of life you want to lead.

It includes:

  • A journey line exercise that allows you to plot the highs and lows of your life and career and reflect on what you’ve learned from those experiences.
  • The five elements of purpose and how you can use them to determine your destination in life.
  • An opportunity to create a purpose statement for yourself.

I hope this proves to be a practical tool to help you make the journey matter.

(CONTINUE BLOG POST)

MAKING THE JOURNEY MATTER AT WORK

I remember as a young professional I aspired to be a leader someday, but many of the leaders I knew and stereotypes I heard about were confusing to me. I thought in order to succeed I needed to:

  • Act tough and not show emotion,
  • Be willing to step on others to climb the corporate ladder,
  • I needed to know all the answers – or at least pretend like I did.

The problem was, I wasn’t like this at all. So I wasn’t sure I could be myself and still be a successful leader.

Have you felt this way before?  That being you wasn’t enough?

Too many times we try to be what others want us to be. But only when we are truly ourselves will we perform at our best.

You can’t expect to find and fulfill a purpose if you’re not true to yourself.

Yes, you will grow  and change a lot throughout your leadership journey, but you shouldn’t  fundamentally change who you are.

You are you – this is who God made you to be.

To attempt to be something drastically different keeps you from finding true joy in the journey.

Embracing who you are as a leader makes the journey far more enjoyable. And I believe that to be the most effective leader you can be, there must be something different about you.

Why?

So many leaders look and feel the same. They have chosen to align their beliefs and behaviors with others or with their organizations so much so that they have lost virtually all their individuality. In this case, who wants to follow them?

There must be something compelling that makes people—whether its employers, clients, or significant others—pick you.

Being different is attractive and makes you stand out from the crowd.

The trick is: You must be you. If you try to be something you’re not, people will recognize it pretty quickly. And there is nothing less desirable than a fake.

Which begs the question: What makes you, you?

Answer: Know yourself. Dare to be yourself. And be sure others have a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for, too.

That starts by looking within. You need a good sense of your gifts and talents, your values and your passions.

Then you can find your way into that “sweet spot” where all those things come together. That’s the goal, right?

Sort of. But it’s not really just about being in a sweet spot. It’s also about what you do with that opportunity once you’re there.

And just to clarify: No matter where you are in your journey, you are a leader. Leadership is not defined by title, but by your character, actions and words and your influence over those around you.

It’s a privilege to be a leader. You have the chance to impact those around you for good.

I have a core belief – When you have opportunity to do good for others, just do it.

Here are a few ways i try to live that out:

  • Be a leader who releases — Empower, equip and enable others by giving all the good stuff away, sharing with them information, relationships, resources – anything that helps them soar in their careers. Be a door-opener and a catalyst for others.
  • Ignite — We have a program at Mitchell called “Ignite” where we gives our employees time and money to go into the community and do random acts of kindness. It’s incredibly powerful to be a giver, and it changes you for good.
  • Love the whole person — Don’t just treat people transactionally in the workplace. Instead love the whole person. And by that I mean — show genuine interest in others, remember their name, talk to them in the hallway, ask about their family. Your kindness could be the one positive thing that happens to someone that day.

Daring to be yourself, finding your sweet spot, and impacting others are a few of the ways we can make the journey matter at work. I certainly have tried to learn and apply these lessons over the years.

But one of the most powerful lessons I ever learned as a leader was how to make the journey matter in my personal life. Easy to say and hard to do when you are a destination leader.

(CONTINUE BLOG POST)

MAKING THE JOURNEY MATTER IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE

We all know and studies tell us – we can’t work all the time. We have to find the “off” switch and do something other than work. Keep ourselves grounded. Live a whole life.

If you’d asked me a few years ago what my hobbies were, I would have told you that I didn’t have any because I didn’t have any free time. In truth, I didn’t make any time for them – I put as much of my time as possible toward building my company.

I knew that needed to change, if for no other reason than I wanted to be an attractive, engaging person for my husband. He didn’t want to be married to someone who was defined only by her work. And I wanted my children to feel they had a fun and interesting mom who was passionate about life itself, and pursued her personal joys too.

So I invested in myself. I found hobbies – and believe it or not, many of them led me to develop more of a journey mindset.

  • I learned to ride a motorcycle and began riding alongside my husband.
  • I took up running, one of the joys of my youth
  • I returned to photography and spend as much time as possible capturing the things I see along the way
  • I love to cook and entertain in our home
  • I love to travel, and my husband and I travel together as often as possible.

What do you love? Is there something that brings you pure joy just in the doing, but you’ve been putting off spending any time on it, haven’t touch it in years because you didn’t think you had the time or money?  How much more would you enjoy the ride of your life with these things in it?

You must invest in yourself, or you won’t have anything left for anyone else. No one wants to be around someone who works all the time, or thinks about work all the time. You have to really SHOW UP.

You want the brownie point for coming to your daughter’s dance recital or your son’s Little League game, but if you’re that parent behind the bleachers on your phone the whole time, you don’t get the full point – maybe just a quarter of a point.

Wouldn’t you rather be on the front row cheering them on where they can see your smiling face and hear your voice?!  That’s worth the full point!  And they will remember.

People matter the most. Relationships are the greatest gift we have, and we have to invest in them.

I learned I had to make time for those I love – my husband, my kids, my closest circle of friends. They are the ones who have stayed with me through thick and thin. They are the ones who I will be by their side in the darkest and last moments of life. And I hope they will be there for me too.

But you must be intentional about keeping them as fellow journeyers:

  • You can’t drive so far ahead that no one can keep up with you.
  • Sometimes you scrap the map and go with a detour that is better for them than you.
  • And sometimes you pull your bike over to the side of the road, put the kickstand down and look around you – drink in how beautiful where you are today is. Live in the present. Experience this moment, this place. Don’t miss a single moment of the richness of your life!

Traveling the road of life is so much more enjoyable when you can do it with those you love. So be sure to find and keep fellow journeyers.

(CONTINUE BLOG POST)

DESTINATION / JOURNEY MINDSET

As you can tell from this website and my new book, I ride a motorcycle. Learning to ride came at a critical time – when I couldn’t sleep. And it taught me many things:

  • To find greater joy in the journey, for sure, but also…
  • You need a clear destination and the drive to get there – but that’s not enough. The journey matters. It really does!

I’ve learned to be a destination leader with a journey mindset. Someone who is still very focused on reaching her goals, but someone who now understands that the journey of life is meant to be savored and experienced.

Living and leading as a destination leader with a journey mindset has transformed my life.

  • Today I am a far different leader, wife, mom and friend than I was a few years ago when I couldn’t sleep.
  • Adopting a journey mindset was the key.

RESOURCES FOR YOU

Book

Figuring out the destination/journey challenge was such a game-changer for me that I decided to write a book about it. It’s called Leading Through the Turn. McGraw Hill is my publisher and it launched January 2017.

JOURNEY LINE DOWNLOAD

And just for you, I’ve prepared a free download called “Journey Line: A Leader’s Guide to Finding Purpose.”  This is a powerful tool that will help you gain clarity about your purpose and the kind of life you want to lead.

It includes:

  • A journey line exercise that allows you to plot the highs and lows of your life and career and reflect on those events.
  • The five elements of purpose and how you can use them to determine your “there.”
  • An opportunity to create a purpose statement for yourself

I hope this proves to be a practical tool to help you make the journey matter.

So no matter what your goals and dreams, what destination you’re striving for, remember: It’s okay to have ambition, but that can’t be all you’re about. You have to live a full life. And when you do, you will have learned how to lead and live with purpose.

Enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

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