Category Archives: The Journey

In The Turn

Career vs Family? 6 Ways to Make Your Most Important Relationships Last

I’m crazy about my kids. Our daughter, Mackenzie, and son, Jackson are both starting their final year of school and busy planning their futures. My husband and I are proud of them and love being with them.

But I wasn’t always so sure they would love being with me.

There was a time when all I thought about was winning at work. This was several years ago, when I was busy building my company and putting nearly every bit of my time and attention into that. Things were going well at work, but my relationships at home were suffering.

The either/or lie

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve heard this story from countless other leaders around the world who think it’s an either/or decision. Either you build a successful career, or you have a happy home life. But you can’t have both.

Wrong. The either/or choice is a lie. It isn’t the only option. “Yes and…” is a much better choice. But that requires you to make different decisions about how you spend your time. You can’t just lean into work. You have to lean into family when they need you, too.

Thankfully I learned this lesson. And as you probably know by now, I became a destination leader with a journey mindset – someone who still strives to reach her goals, but someone who has also learned to savor life.

As it turns out, when I invested more in my family, my business thrived, too. In fact, we grew more than 500% over the next five years. I eventually sold my company to a global corporation, which brought us opportunities and benefits we could never have imagined.

Enjoy the ride

One of the ways we can enjoy the ride of our lives is by having and keeping fellow journeyers, first and foremost our family and friends.

But relationships don’t just happen. You must nurture them, or they won’t last. Here are six ways you can show others you care.

1. Dashboard conversations

When Mackenzie was a teenager, our most meaningful conversations happened when we were riding home late on Sunday nights from her weekend cheer competitions. I kept the radio turned off and my phone on mute. The quiet, along with the glow of the dashboard lights, allowed her to open up and ask me questions about life, love, friends, faith – whatever was on her mind.

I treasure those conversations to this day, and I learned the importance of being available so we could connect when she was ready. Relationships grow one conversation at a time. Be sure you are ready to stop, listen and engage when someone special wants to connect with you.

2. Planning regular time together

Many people plan a “date night” with their significant other. This is always a great idea, but here’s another suggestion too. My father used to take me for a “root beer float date” every Thursday night when I was a senior in high school, and I loved having his undivided attention for just a few hours. If you are a parent/aunt/uncle/grandparent, try scheduling one-on-one time with the young people in your life. Let them pick the place or activity. Be sure to tuck your phone away so you can be fully present – unless you’re taking a selfie with them!

3. Showing up

No one wants to be around someone who works all the time, or thinks about work all the time. You can’t just be physically present; you have to really SHOW UP.

This means resisting the temptation to look at your phone throughout dinner, or making work the topic of every conversation. You can’t arrive at your child’s soccer game yet spend the entire time on the phone behind the bleachers.

Arrive, be present and stay focused on the moment, or you’ll find you’ve missed all the moments that mattered.

4. Slowing down

As a destination leader, you probably move at a rapid pace most of the time. You must slow down and live life at others’ pace every once in a while, or find a happy medium you can all live with.

This looks like taking time to read with your children. Or going for a walk in the evenings with your spouse. Or cooking a meal with another family member and delivering a plate to an elderly neighbor together.

Whatever others enjoy doing, carve out some time to do it with them at their pace.

5. Making sacrifices for others

Many times in life you must scrap the map and go with a detour that is better for your family members than it is for you.

Some husbands move for their wife’s job without knowing what’s in it for them. Children care for their elderly parents, even when their mom or dad no longer knows who they are. Some wives support their husband’s desire to switch careers, in spite of all the uncertainty that goes with that.

Detours in life are hard. But they always lead somewhere new, even if it’s not exactly where you thought you’d end up. Know that whatever sacrifice you make now, it is an investment for the long-run in a relationship that matters to you. And will always keep the journey interesting.

6. Appreciating unexpected joys together

When you make the journey matter in life, you don’t ride so quickly that you miss the scenery along the way.

I learned this while riding motorcycles with my husband. We often pull our bikes over to the side of the road, put the kickstand down, and take time to drink in the sights and sounds around us. Some of my best memories are from moments like this.

The lesson is clear: we must pause to enjoy the little things with those we love. So take a few moments this weekend to marvel at the sunset on a walk with your husband. Run through the sprinkler with your granddaughter. Work in the garden with your nephew. Relish your son’s chance to get in the game. Tell your daughter how nice she looks when she’s dressed for a special occasion. Enjoy old family photos with your mom.

It scares me to think what could have happened to my relationship with my kids if I hadn’t changed when I did. I’m a far different person today, but far from perfect. I must constantly remind myself to live with a journey mindset

Let me encourage you not to give up on yourself if you fall back into your old patterns. For those of us who are driven souls, it’s an ongoing battle.

But the good news is, you will always be someone’s son or daughter, mom or dad, aunt or uncle, grandmother or grandfather. Even if things could have been better in the past, be there for them now. Turn off the radio, put your phone on mute, and listen for the voice of someone you love whose ready to connect with you.

People matter the most. Relationships are the greatest gift we have. Invest in them, and others will know you care.

Copyright (c) 2018 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

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In The Turn

Leadership Under Pressure: How to Show Courage, Cunning and Character When It Really Matters

This is Part Two in a series based on my recent trip to India. Part One shared stories of our adventures looking for tigers and the powerful leadership lessons I learned while on safari. Now, I’d like to take you deep into the ancient palaces of the maharajas and maharanis, where we discovered secrets of royalty who walked these rooms centuries ago.

As always, I found inspiration for modern leadership – this time from the lives of these great men and women who demonstrated great courage, cunning and character in life-and-death situations. I hope you learn as much from them as I did.

The morning breeze felt good as it blew in gently from the windows where I stood. I could see through the wood-carved screens to the lake just outside the palace walls. The water sparkled in the sunshine. Shade trees dotted the water’s edge and covered the hillside beyond.

I leaned against the cool marble walls, looked around the upper room of this tower, and marveled. While the setting of the City Palace in Udaipur is breath-taking, the interiors of this majestic building are simply spectacular.

India, the world’s sixth-largest economy and the fastest-growing outside of China, has a history rich with colorful figures, dynasties and periods of turmoil as well as prosperity. As we walked the halls, I couldn’t help being swept up by the stories our guide told us of the men and women who lived in palaces like this one.

What would life have been like to lead a kingdom during that time? What secrets did these walls hold? What leadership lessons can we learn?

A Maharaja to remember

One of the most celebrated leaders was Chhatrapati Shivaji, a legendary maharaja who founded the Maratha kingdom in the 17th century and who displayed at least three important characteristics leaders need today: Courage, cunning, and character.

Shivaji’s reign is noted for many things. He was a champion of religious tolerance, the “Father of the Indian Navy,” and a supporter of women’s rights.

He was also a skilled leader in battle, demonstrating courage time and again by fighting fiercely against attackers and protecting the people who lived in his kingdom. He earned the nickname “mountain rat” because of his knowledge of the mountainous countryside and his ingenuity in triumphing over enemies in difficult terrain.

We heard several stories about Shivaji, but perhaps my favorite occurred during his struggle against a Mughal emperor named Aurangzeb. This is a conflict that waged for many years. At one point, Shivaji and his men captured several forts, and things finally came to a head. The emperor couldn’t tolerate losing more ground. So he sent a huge army to attack Shivaji and his band of men, forcing a peace treaty.

Shivaji agreed to meet with Aurangzeb in Agra, which is the home of the Taj Mahal and a major city in the state of what is known today as Rajasthan. Aurangzeb assured him he would be treated like royalty when he arrived.

A daring escape

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Shivaji and his son, who accompanied him to Agra, were at first ignored by the Mughal; then quickly placed under house arrest and threatened with execution.

Shivaji was furious when he realized he had been tricked. Their lives were in danger now – as was his entire kingdom.

While stuck in captivity, Shivaji began to think – how could he overcome this turn of events and escape? Calling upon his ingenuity, the clever leader thought of a plan and put it into motion.

Shivaji sent word to his captors that he had become ill and asked for doctors to treat him. After three days, he insisted he had been cured and ask for sweets to be distributed to doctors and needy people in the land as a way of showing his gratitude. Huge quantities of special treats were prepared and carried out from the palace grounds in large bamboo baskets.

At first, guards carefully inspected each basket before allowing it to leave. As the days wore on, however, they became lax. Shivaji knew this was his chance.

In a thrilling escape, he and his son hid in the baskets and were carried to freedom under the very noses of the guards who were supposed to be watching them!

Once outside, they disguised themselves as beggars, shaving their very recognizable beards and mustaches, exchanging their clothing, and putting ashes on their faces. They escaped through the countryside and returned to their kingdom.

Shivaji was welcomed back as a hero. Once back in power, he focused all his efforts on restoring his kingdom, instituting reforms and establishing stability in the region. He eventually was coronated as a king, and he ruled for many years until his death.

Leadership lessons

The legendary Maharaja never lived in the City Palace of Udaipur. But his story is larger than life, and I thought about it throughout our trip. I’m struck by three leadership lessons we can take from his example.

Lesson 1: Courage is a constant

While one could argue that Shivaji was a little blood-thirsty, he is not unlike many other warrior kings in history who succeeded largely through constant courage and a willingness to fight. He stood up to his enemies and refused to let them defeat him.

He also earned the respect of his soldiers by demonstrating his battle skills and fighting side-by-side with them in the trenches. As a result, they remained loyal and willingly followed him into battle.

Have you ever felt you were “under siege” as a leader, fighting for your team, your values, your point of view or a cause you passionately believed in? Whether we like it or not, such battles are simply a part of leadership.

It requires courage to rise to these occasions, especially when everything inside you wants to head for the hills. Here are a few things to remember that will help increase your courage in the heat of battle.

  •  Stand your ground – Instead of shrinking back, stand up, plant your feet and take up some space. This increases your confidence by altering your neurochemicals – increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol. Neuroscience research has shown that when we have higher levels of testosterone, we are more persistent in the face of failure, better negotiators and more willing to take risks.

One of the most popular TED talks (more than 42 million views) features psychologist Amy Cuddy explaining why “power posing” might be useful to build courage. Her research suggests there is an increase in testosterone when we strike a confident pose. She’s not suggesting we stand defiantly when we’re leading others, although there might be times when we need a strong posture. More often, power posing is part of our preparation. “Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes,” says Cuddy.

  • Show grace under fireBrené Brown, a professor at the University of Houston, has noted that the root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. “In one of its earliest forms,” Brown writes, “the word courage meant, ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences—good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.’”

This type of courage allows us to own our actions rather than casting blame, to be outspoken about our beliefs, and to demonstrate confidence and poise even when we’re under extreme stress or pressure. It’s a self-confidence that comes from knowing and demonstrating our hearts.

  • Remember who you are – Too often we are consumed with the business and the busyness of our daily work. But it’s important to step back periodically and remind yourself why you’ve chosen to lead. What drives you? What are your values? What do you want your legacy to be? When you are clear about these things, it helps crystallize in your mind who you are as a leader and why you are willing to fight for things that matter to you.

Lesson 2: Cunning comes from clear thinking

Many times, it isn’t sheer force of will that carries the day. It’s how we use our wits. Like Shivaji, we may need to devise a clever way out of a pickle. So, we need to optimize our thinking skills and be prepared to use them when the pressure is on.

Here are two tips to help you think clearly when you need it most.

  • Manage your emotions – An important fact to know about your brain: Your limbic system, which regulates your emotions, and your prefrontal cortex, which controls complex thinking, both require plenty of glucose and oxygen. As a result, they cannot operate optimally at the same time. This explains why you’re thinking is often significantly impaired when you’re in a heightened emotional state, and you find yourself at a loss for words.

Effective leaders know how to dial back their emotional responses so they can clear their heads to think. You can improve your ability to do this by practicing mindfulness, which is remaining present and aware of your thoughts and feelings instead of escaping into your mind when the going gets tough. As you learn to inhibit negative narratives in your head, you can be more objective and perceive situations realistically. Practicing meditation regularly also improves your ability to focus.

  • See things another way — You can use basic cognitive strategies such as repositioning, which is stepping back to see things from another’s perspective. If you could consult a friend or a mentor on the situation, how might they advise you? Many times, others can help us consider options we might not see for ourselves.

Lesson 3: Character defines your legacy

More than courage and cunning, your character tells the world what kind of leader you are. We read daily of leaders who stumble due to lack of judgment, ethical breaches or outright criminal activity. Even though no one is perfect and we all fall short, it’s disheartening.

We hold leaders to a higher standard and look up to them – as we should. Being in a position of power means you set vision, show the way and make important decisions, many of which impact others as well as yourself.

I was impressed to learn of Shivaji’s commitments to better the quality of life for his people. He was known for his respect and tolerance for different faiths. During a time when women were not treated particularly well, the Maharaja did not tolerate violence or harassment against women. He got in the trenches with his soldiers and fought with them.

He didn’t have to lead this way, but he chose to anyway, and he enjoyed support and stability because of the respect he earned.

  • Leaders of character consider the needs of others — Courage and cunning are part of your character, but the part that most defines your legacy as a leader is your selflessness. Leaders cannot be all about themselves; instead, they keep the interests of others as a top priority. Otherwise, no one will willingly follow them – at least not for long.

Great leaders do not abuse power or take advantage of it for their own gain. They consider the needs of others and show respect for individuals regardless of their standing in society. Their decisions and actions show what they’re made of and what’s in their heart.

Being a leader of character means knowing and living your values. Most of us are pretty good at the first part; it’s the second part that’s so hard! But living them is what really matters. It allows us to earn not just the respect of others, but, most importantly, our own.

During times of great challenge, we are drawn to people who muster a rare combination of courage, cunning and character. Shivaji seems to have brought them all. I hope his legacy inspires you to demonstrate these same qualities in your own leadership journey.

 

 

Copyright (c) 2018 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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In The Turn

A Maharaja, a Magician and a Tiger: Leadership Lessons from the Most Unexpected Places

Tiger sighting

My husband and I recently returned from a trip to India, a captivating place that is an explosion of vivid sights, sounds and smells. From the Taj Mahal and tuk-tuks (think motorized rickshaws), to saris, Bollywood and curry, there is only one India.

I had the privilege of speaking at leadership events in both New Delhi and Mumbai. Through these experiences, I gained a much fuller understanding of the economic opportunities India enjoys. I came away inspired by the accomplishments of the business leaders I met and warmed by the friendships I gained.

Travel can be a great teacher, and this trip was no exception. Yet some of the most powerful leadership lessons from this trip came in the most unexpected of places – while walking through the ancient palaces of the maharajas, meeting a 10-year-old magician in a rural village, and looking for tigers in the underbrush of the Vindhya plateau.

This is part one in a series on lessons I learned during this journey. I hope you learn as much from it as I did. Let’s start in the wild, which actually has some striking similarities to the workplace.

What tracking a tiger can teach you about leadership

Tigers are beautiful and rare creatures. The Bengal tiger is the national animal of India and can still be seen in the wild, thanks in large part to Project Tiger, a conservation program launched by the Indian government nearly 50 years ago to protect the animals from extinction.

We saw three tigers during a two-day visit to Ranthambhore National Park, a 108-square mile tiger preserve that is also home to crocodiles, leopards, peacocks and a variety of other wildlife. It was a thrilling experience to see a tiger up close – and I mean very close — in its natural habitat. On two different occasions, a tiger walked right in front of our jeep.

Tigers are the largest members of the cat family. They are predators at the top of the food chain, hunting deer, wild boar and monkeys, among many other things. Tigers are stealthy, camouflaging themselves in tall grass while they stalk prey. They are also incredibly beautiful and sleek, moving with a grace and calmness that can lull you into overlooking the danger at hand.

But spotting a tiger in the national parks is no easy task. Some visitors don’t see one until their fifth or sixth visit. Experienced guides and drivers who know the park well are your best bet, not just for their knowledge of the terrain, but because they have learned a secret that also holds many powerful leadership lessons.

Our group had hired just such experts, and we set out just before sunrise on our first safari. My husband, a friend and I rode together in one jeep; our traveling companions in another. Each vehicle was assigned a guide and a driver.

It was very chilly as we started out, and the road was bumpy and dusty. Our guide seemed quite knowledgeable and told us many interesting facts about tigers, their history and the country’s preservation program as we approached the entrance to the park.

Once we passed the guard station, we headed for the zone we had been assigned to for the morning and began our search. We drove up and down hills, passed several watering holes, and stopped to birdwatch a bit. We saw peacocks, deer, two crocodiles and a mongoose.

But no tiger.

On several occasions, our guide instructed our driver to simply stop and turn the engine off. And we just sat. The first time or two he did this, I was frustrated. I didn’t understand – why are we sitting? The other animals are beautiful, but we came to see a tiger. Shouldn’t we be driving around? Shouldn’t we try to cover more ground to increase our chances? Why would we stop and do nothing?

It didn’t take long for our guide to notice our confusion. You can drive and drive in hopes of seeing a tiger, he explained, but this obvious strategy often wastes time and energy, and it ultimately tries the patience of the team. You’re also making unnecessary noise, kicking up dust and, most importantly, racing by the very clues you need.

Your best bet, he said, is to stop, watch and listen.

Trying a different strategy

When a tiger is on the move, he told us, other animals are the first to notice and they give a call about the approaching danger. Sometimes their alarm is very noticeable, like a monkey’s shriek while it climbs frantically into the tree tops. Other warnings are subtler, such as a bird’s cry made at a slightly higher pitch, or a Sambar deer’s short quick bark twice in succession as it turns to run.

The calls can be right in front of you, or far away. If you’re not watching and listening carefully, you’ll miss them.

It sounded like a plausible reason for the sit-and-wait strategy, but, I’ll admit, it was a little hard to buy into this approach. While the minutes ticked by, I couldn’t help but think we should get moving, try to cover more ground and move into more open spaces to increase our line of sight. Do something – anything – seemed like a more productive strategy and one more in tuned with my destination instincts.

But the effectiveness of his approach was proven in dramatic fashion.  After riding around for some time, our guide instructed our driver to slow way down, and he leaned out of the jeep. On the side of the road, he spotted fresh tiger prints in the dust. Once we got close enough to them, they were unmistakable.

We followed the prints along the road until they disappeared, then drove a bit until we reached a low spot near a dried creek bed, trees thick on either side. The guide instructed our driver to turn off the engine. We sat and waited. Other jeeps and guides had gathered nearby as well. No one said a word.

And then we heard it – the animals gave their calls. The treetops came alive as monkeys began swinging wildly from the branches and chattering loudly. Birds flew from the trees, calling out. The boss was on the move. Where exactly and moving in what direction was anyone’s guess. But we knew something big was about to happen.

My heart was in my throat. The anticipation of a sighting was absolutely thrilling.

Our guide spoke swiftly and pointed to where he wanted our jeep to be positioned. The driver threw the vehicle into reverse and quickly backed down the road to an opening in the woods. It was clear our guide was relying on his instincts and 20-plus years of experience at that critical moment to anticipate where the tiger might emerge.

And, in fact, she did, in all her glory, right beside us. I captured priceless video of her jumping effortlessly over a rock wall and sauntering into the clearing, turning around just long enough to cast a curious glance at her audience. Simply amazing.

Leadership lessons

Needless to say, we were beside ourselves with excitement and couldn’t stop talking and looking at pictures (and video) while we drove back to our camp.

It wasn’t until later in the day when the excitement had died down and I could think more deeply about the experience that the lessons came home to me. While luck and timing played a part, as is always the case, there were several reasons for our success that we can apply to our own leadership journeys.

Here are three.

Lesson #1: Recognize the warning signs

Our guide was experienced and knew the warning signs, both subtle and overt. He knew how they could help inform our process and improve our chances. If he hadn’t, we would have been like many of the vehicles we saw wandering aimlessly around the park whose guide seemed too busy with the “cover more ground” strategy.

How many times have you been unaware of — or simply ignored — warning signs that could have helped you anticipate problems? It could be something as subtle as a slight change in the attitude of a trusted teammate. Or an off-hand comment made by a colleague. It could be as overt as competing interests among colleagues that start derailing an important project. Or a top contributor deciding to leave for another job with no real apparent reason.

If you’re paying attention, these signs can alert you that something bigger is brewing. But you must learn to identify and recognize the signs, or you can run straight into trouble that is far more difficult to recover from.

Lesson #2: Know when to stop, watch and listen

Although we covered a lot of ground and looked in likely places, our guide resisted the temptation (and subtle pressure from us) to spend all our time driving around in hopes that we would simply run into a tiger. If we had used that strategy, we would have missed at least two of the tiger sightings we had.

Destination leaders often go full throttle in pursuit of their goals, and sometimes our drive pays off. Other times, we can become so single-minded in our focus that we pay little to no attention to anything or anyone around us when that’s exactly what we need to do.

Have you found yourself thinking you were too busy to have meaningful conversations? You missed a breakdown happening right in front of you because you were looking past it? You were so committed to your own strategy that you weren’t willing to stop and consider someone else’s approach that could have led to a better result? You gave in to pressure from others to deviate from a strategy that you believed would be more effective?

How much better could you lead if you tried a “stop, watch and listen” strategy every now and then? Here’s what that could look like:

Stop — Take time to think more deeply and enhance your own cognitive abilities by:

  • Practicing mindfulness every day – just five minutes using a free app on your phone like Insights Timer will increase your ability to focus and help you stay centered.
  • Scheduling some “think time” on your calendar at least once a week to dive deeper into a pressing issue or complex project you’re facing.

Watch — In meetings, practice watching others to determine their state of mind by:

  • Observing body language that could signal dissatisfaction or unrest such as minimal eye contact, being distracted, choosing a seat that is unnaturally far away.
  • Seeing how someone greets others or says good-bye as they leave the room
  • Noticing their facial expressions as they react to certain topics or comments.

Listen — In your one-on-ones, ask two or three new questions to prompt discussion on more meaningful issues and to allow you to listen more intentionally to your team. For example:

  • What’s keeping you awake at night right now?
  • If you were sitting in my seat, what’s the most important piece of advice you would give me?
  • What is one thing I can do for you?

And in phone calls with customers or clients, practice listening to gain a deeper understanding by:

  • Noticing their tone of voice to anticipate how they are feeling.
  • Jotting down critical thoughts and words they share with you to help you synthesize and understand the bigger picture.
  • Asking open-ended questions to draw out more details that could fill an information gap in your mind about a situation.

Lesson #3: Use what you learn to make better decisions

Our guide was adept at watching and listening, but he also knew how to use that information to his advantage. He gambled on where to park our jeep by watching the direction the animals were moving and relying on his instincts and experience.

You will never know exactly what to do every time. No leader does. A difficult situation arises suddenly, things begin to unfold in real time, and a decision must be made quickly. It can be scary, especially if the stakes are high.

You can improve your chances of making better decisions at critical moments, however, as you become more adept at assessing situations and applying insights. Among other things, this requires you to:

  • manage your emotions effectively when the pressure is on;
  • apply fundamental elements of critical thinking such as accuracy and relevance to devise viable solutions; and
  • have the courage to make the decision, even if you’re unsure it will work.

Making decisions at critical moments takes practice. But if you are more intentional about your overall decision-making process, you’ll find it comes easier in pressure-packed situations. And you’ll likely enjoy more satisfactory outcomes.

I hope these three leadership lessons help you lead at your best. More to come on lessons learned from maharajas, maharanis and a 10-year-old magician.

 

 

Copyright (c) 2018 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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In The Turn

How to Create a Personal Board of Directors and Accelerate Your Career

The meeting was over, and I returned to my office feeling extremely satisfied with the results. Then I heard a knock on the door and looked up to see a co-worker who had come to gently set me straight.

As it turned out, what I thought had been a successful meeting regarding a major decision instead had left others confused about my thinking and concerned about what was ahead. I thought I had done a great job of communicating and inspiring, only to learn I hadn’t taken the time to provide some much-needed context. In my eagerness to drive the decision, I had left out valuable details to earn buy-in.

We’ve all had situations when our self-awareness gets lost in self-denial, Or in my case, lost in my own POV. Realistic self-assessment is incredibly difficult. We’re either too easy or too hard on ourselves, and neither is good.

  • When we’re too easy, we begin to think our way is the best and only way, and we disregard the diverse views of others. We become overly confident, take chances we shouldn’t and think we’re more effective than we really are.
  • When we’re too hard on ourselves, we question every decision. We’re more hesitant than we should be and don’t trust our instincts enough. We need too much validation, don’t feel worthy of respect and suffer from the imposter syndrome.

Either way, we are not leading at our best and those around us suffer as a result.

The biggest problem: Getting feedback

It takes hard work to strike the right balance and have a fair appraisal of ourselves so we can play to our strengths while continually striving to improve our weaknesses.

The biggest problem is we often don’t get the feedback we need to inform our self-perceptions. It’s challenging for others to tell the truth or share less than flattering observations with us, especially if we’re in a position of power. We often don’t get accurate, honest comments about how our words, actions and intentions are perceived.

One of the best ways to gain regular, meaningful feedback is to put together a personal board of directors – a team of mentors who will tell it like it is when we need to hear it most.

Wendy Davidson, the president of U.S. Specialty Channels for the Kellogg Company, introduced this idea to me several years ago, because she believes her personal board has been invaluable to her highly successful career. I couldn’t agree more.

Benefits of a personal board of directors

Consider some of the countless ways a personal board can advance your career. They can:

  • Offer practical advice about how to tackle new opportunities to increase your chances of getting key decisions right the first time
  • Serve as an informal coach who can provide wisdom about challenging situations or interactions with others
  • Share subject-matter expertise to expand your understanding on a specific topic
  • Point you toward resources and tools that will further your development and learning Introduce you to people to help expand your network
  • Hold you accountable for changing an attitude or behavior impacting your professional performance
  • Offer diverse points of view and different life experiences to challenge your thinking and broaden your view of the world
  • Provide “big picture” perspective about your career as you consider job opportunities or career moves

How to form your board

The concept of a personal board of directors isn’t new, and most leaders I know see it as a great idea. But many never give the time and energy it takes to form and take advantage of such a board. So, how do you actually pull it off? It’s not as hard as it seems, but it does require a bit of thinking and planning. I’ve mapped out a simple process with these three steps to establishing a personal board of directors:

1. Assess your biggest needs

Start by listing of your five biggest challenges/needs — things that are potentially holding you back in your career or impacting your work/life balance. Some examples:

  • Unfamiliar with practical financial principles that impact my strategic thinking abilities
  • Not managing my emotions effectively under pressure
  • Not enough knowledge of front-line operations
  • Working too late in the evenings on a regular basis
  • Feeling confused and overwhelmed by complex decisions

If it helps, turn these challenges into simple “goal statements,” such as:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the most useful financial principles for my role
  • Keep my cool more often when I am facing deadlines

2. Identify prospects

Once you have a better sense of your needs, think about who could help you most. Consider asking people who:

  • Are in a position you aspire to have someday
  • Come from another company in your industry (that you don’t compete with)
  • Come from an entirely different industry
  • Are experts in an area you need to learn more about
  • Can feed your spirit and encourage you to invest in yourself
  • Are willing to be brutally honest to help, not hurt
  • Will always have your best interests at heart

List each prospect’s name, organization, area of expertise, and which one or more of your five goals can they help you with. Make sure you have current contact information for each prospect.

Make as long a list as you like, but an ideal personal board has 3-5 members. You’ll need more prospects since everyone may not be able to help.

3. Make the ask

Once you have your list, take some time to write a short script or a few bullet points to guide your conversation so you can articulate your thinking clearly and succinctly when you call each prospect.

For example, you’ll want to explain why you are forming a personal board of directors, what is involved if someone agrees to join and how each person could help you with one or more of your five opportunities for growth.

Here’s an example of what you could say and why you need to say it:

  • I’ve been evaluating my career, identifying my strengths and my opportunities for growth. I’ve set some specific goals for myself that I believe will further my career. (establishes that you have done your homework)
  • I greatly admire what you have accomplished, particularly ___________ (name something related to one or more of your five areas for growth). This expertise and your career success would be invaluable to me. (explains why you are asking them)
  • I have decided to form a personal board of directors and would love to have you as a part of this team of super mentors for me. (clarifies your plan of action)
  • What that simply means is I would like to connect with you once every few months to ask for your advice or seek your expertise when I know it could make a big impact on me. I would like to treat you to lunch or dinner, or we could arrange to meet by phone/video call, too – whatever is easier for you. (tells them how much time would be involved on their end)
  • I would like your help as I continue on my developmental journey. Would you be willing to be on my personal board of directors? (makes the ask)

Start with your top prospects and work your way through your list, ensuring that you create a board with diverse strengths and expertise. Make notes of the feedback you receive to help shape how you bring your board to life and what their preferences might be for how you engage with them. Even prospects who cannot take the time to join your board now will likely have some advice for you.

TIP: Don’t fear ‘the ask’

One piece of advice Wendy shared with me is not to be afraid to ask. Many times, we worry that asking for help is a burden to others. Wendy reminded me that looking to others for advice can be a compliment. You’re saying, “You have something that I can learn from, and I’d like you to be a part of my career moving forward.”

Next steps

A few suggestions on next steps:

  • Once you have secured the agreement of and feedback from your board members, send them a thank-you email or hand-written note.
  • Look ahead on your schedule to identify times you can connect with them in person or by phone/video. Make a note to reach out to them several weeks in advance so they can make time to meet.
  • Prepare for each meeting so you can give them an overview of what’s going on in your career. If you have a specific request, let them know the topic in advance so they can think about how to help.
  • Always send a thank-you note any time your board members help you. Let them know the result and the impact they have made.

If you want to take a deeper dive on this topic – to hear the full story about how and why Wendy created her board, and how she used this throughout her career – read Chapter 3 in my book, Leading Through the Turn.

I am proud to say Wendy is on my personal board of directors, and I am on hers. Her impact on my leadership journey has been profound, and it is an honor to help her whenever I can. Imagine how your personal board of directors will impact the trajectory of your career. Don’t be afraid to ask!

 

 

 

Copyright (c) 2018 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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In The Turn

3 Ways You Can Find Opportunity in the Midst of Change

Every leader I talk with these days is leading through some kind of change. I suspect you are, too.

Maybe you’re in an industry that’s being disrupted by technology. Maybe you’re leading a team that’s been part of a merger or acquisition. Maybe you’ve been assigned an under-performing team that needs coaching or a complete shake-up. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur leading a team through the uncertainty of the start-up phase.

If you’re dealing with change, this post is for you. And I’ve got three very practical lessons to help you find new opportunities in times of uncertainty.

I’ve drawn these lessons from a conversation I had recently with a good friend of mine who has been knee-deep in change for years. She leads nearly 4,000 employees in 83 offices worldwide, and they are smack in the middle of the digital industry.

My friend is Ruth Stubbs — a fearless leader and an inspiring change agent. I’ve learned so much from her over the past few years about leading through change. She’s a pioneer in digital marketing with more than 25 years of experience in the media industry and today serves as global president of iProspect, a digital performance marketing agency and one of our sister agencies in Dentsu Aegis Network.

Ruth is a wife, mom and endurance athlete. She lives in Singapore and is a tireless champion of female entrepreneurs.

But what really strikes me about Ruth is how she brings a journey mindset to dealing with change. She’s learned to view change as a part of the leader’s journey, and she looks for ways to help her business and her community find new opportunities in the midst of change.

Here are three valuable lessons I took from my conversation with Ruth along with some useful tips that can help you lead more effectively through change.

Lesson #1: Instill Confidence in Your Team Courageous leaders use their passion for the journey and their optimism about reaching the destination to create confidence in others. But change creates uncertainty that often paralyzes people. And once paralysis takes hold, it can become virtually impossible to move a team forward because they cling to what they know instead of having the confidence to reach out for what lies ahead.

You can prevent that by instilling confidence in your team, grounded in a clear vision for a path forward. Here are a few tips for how to build confidence in others:

  • Encourage and praise team members whenever they bring their A game.
  • Celebrate the small wins.
  • Support them when they take a chance.
  • Help the team see progress toward the goal and believe they can get there.

“One of the most important things in my role is to instill confidence in others,” Ruth told me. “When people are confident about the future, there’s less doubt and less paranoia. Change shouldn’t scare you; it should excite you. Sure there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, so you must help everyone see the opportunities that await. And when things fall in place, people draw confidence from that.”

Ruth helps create confidence in others outside of her business, too. While working in Southeast Asia, she learned that many women run businesses from home but lack the confidence to consider themselves merchants. They also can’t get funding or even open a bank account on their own. So they have little hope of growing their businesses.

That’s why she started Female Foundry, an organization that helps fledgling entrepreneurs grow their businesses. I greatly admire this initiative and all Ruth has done to help women entrepreneurs. Female Foundry provides resources and mentoring to promising companies. But, just as importantly, it gives their founders confidence that they can achieve their dreams.

Lesson #2: Collaborate For The Win When leading a team through change, you must have people who are willing to work together to grab hold of emerging opportunities. In Ruth’s case, the iProspect global leadership team aligns on a common vision and business practices so they can be opportunistic and take action at the right time.

That’s hard to do if employees drift into silos and stop communicating or working as one. If your team struggles with collaboration, you’re probably also missing out on new opportunities right in front of you.

You can change that by helping your team collaborate for the win:

  • Show them the benefits of working together and the value of collective thinking.
  • Teach them how to lean into each other’s strengths.
  • Encourage them to offer support when someone else can really use it. These things build trust and reliability in your team.

Like all successful leaders, Ruth values the team and nurtures collaboration whenever possible. When she launched Female Foundry, she didn’t do it alone or even just with the support of iProspect. She sought the involvement of her parent company, venture capitalists, and iProspect’s clients to form a team that’s far more influential together than any of them could be alone.

She brings the same focus on collaboration to her day-to-day work, and believes you must be a learning leader, especially in times of change. “Don’t be too structured in your thinking when you’re looking for new solutions,” said Ruth. “Be open to what the universe can bring and what you can learn from others. I learn something new from my people every day.”

Lesson #3: Champion Others Leadership is not about you and your success. It’s about taking others on a journey to somewhere important. When you champion others, you end up creating champions.

But you can’t do that with a self-focused approach to leadership. You have to develop a giving spirit and a passion for helping others that’s rooted in your own personal belief system.

If you lack this, you need to do some self-reflection and self-discovery. If you’ve already got some passion around giving to others, act on it over and over and over.

“If the world has been good to you,” Ruth pointed out, “you have to pay it back. You have to have a giving spirit. Doing kind things must be at the top of your to-do list.” Giving to others and championing them makes the leadership journey far sweeter.

Ruth, as you might have noticed, is a high-energy, get-it-done leader. She sees challenges and attacks them with confidence, compassion, and action-oriented solutions. Now you know why I am proud to be her colleague and friend. When we lead like Ruth, uncertainty doesn’t stand a chance.

 

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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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.

 

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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In The Turn

How to Go From “I’m Overwhelmed” to “I’ve Got This”

Your car wouldn’t start this morning. You’re behind on finishing the report that’s due tomorrow. Your boss just called an urgent meeting for late this afternoon. Your daughter’s dance recital is this evening. And on top of that, you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a week.

That’s it — you’re officially overwhelmed, something all of us experience at one time or another. The mental and physical reactions are unmistakable: anxiety, helplessness, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath.

It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. As leaders we are often asked to do more with less, and the stakes get higher in a rapidly changing business environment. Our concerns at home can escalate at any time, too.

How do you find some peace? There are a number of things you can do to reduce the causes of stress in your leadership journey and minimize the chances for a pile-on. Here are six tips along with some steps you can take to help you move from “I’m overwhelmed” to “I’ve got this.”

1. Accept that you don’t have an answer for everything – Many times we feel overwhelmed because we want to maintain an appearance of having everything under control. But there will be plenty of situations for which you simply won’t have an answer, especially when you confront new problems that require new solutions.

>>> Start by telling yourself, “It’s okay not to know.” But you can’t end the sentence there, you must do whatever it takes to find out. Adopt the mindset of a learning leader, and role model this for your team, too. Welcome new challenges as a chance to grow and develop new knowledge and expertise. Remind yourself how empowering it will feel on the other side when you can say, “Now I know.”

2. Win where it matters most – On many occasions you can determine what does/does not go on your list of priorities. But too often we allow our to-do list to become longer than it should be, in part because this make us feel useful.

I remember a time in my career when I proudly showed my boss a list of more than a dozen goals I was planning to work on that year. His reply was to pick the top three and do everything I could do to ensure these were accomplished because they mattered far more than the others. The lesson was clear – I needed to focus my efforts and deliver where it counts.

Wiser leaders understand they can have a far greater impact by focusing on getting two or three crucial things done rather than a lot of little things.

>>> Get clear on what really matters. Assess your assignments and focus on the ones that support your organization’s most important goals. Move everything else to a “later” list, negotiate for more time to address anything that crops up, or see if someone else has the interest, ability and capacity to handle something you can hand off.

3. Focus on what only you can do and give the rest awayMastering the art of delegation is an advanced leadership skill that will prevent a lot of your stress. You may know how to do lots of things, but that doesn’t mean you should regularly do them all, especially if it means you’re routinely working late into the night and on weekends.

Like the point above, you must change your thinking about the value you bring to the organization and recognize that hoarding responsibilities is not healthy or respected. Leaders who empower others and get more stuff done through others are far more valued and promoted than those who hold tightly and try to control everything.

>>>Focus on what only you can do and give the rest away. What do you give away? Not just responsibility, but also all the good stuff that goes with it – authority, recognition, relationships, information, resources. The whole package. Once you’ve given away the things others can do, you’ve freed yourself up to focus on more strategic things. And as a bonus, you win back some time for your personal life as well.

4. Say “no” more often so you can say “yes” to the best – In your leadership journey, you’ll be asked or enticed to do a number of things – serve on a volunteer board, take a leadership role for a special project at work, join an exercise group, attend a long list of social events, write a book, etc. But you can’t realistically do everything well.

>>> Develop a list of criteria to help vet opportunities that come your way and evaluate opportunities based on these things. For example, what will help attract new clients or raise visibility for your organization? Could an assignment broaden your professional network? Also, instead of just saying “no,” consider saying “not now.” That might sound like this: “That commitment is more than I am able to make now. Please consider me again for future opportunities.” By saying no more often you create space in your life to say yes where you want to be your best.

5. Schedule unscheduled time for yourself – Some of the highest achievers I know block off their calendar with a “Do not schedule” planner every so often. Scheduling unscheduled time like this gives you some much needed buffer you will otherwise never capture if you don’t plan for it. These blocks of time, no matter how long or short, can be used in very productive ways.

>>> Place a 30-minute or one-hour planner on your calendar twice a week (or whatever you can reasonably block off). Set aside email and your phone. Use that time in one or more of the following ways:

  • Think time to go deeper on a complex problem or to develop a new strategy;
  • A chance to reflect on a situation you could have handled better and make note of a few things you will do differently next time;
  • Seeking a mentor’s advice;
  • Nurturing your network by sending an email to a colleague or friend.

It’s also important to put personal appointments, family events and vacations on your calendar well in advance so you can work with others to plan around them as much as possible.

6. Get some rest – As elusive as sleep might be during stressful times, you must try to get all you can. Science shows the benefits of sleep to include enhancing, among other things, your immune function, metabolism, memory and learning.

Obviously you will think and perform much better when you are rested. For example, I know that getting a good night’s sleep helps me give better presentations the next day. I can think on my feet much more effectively when I’m willing to get to bed sooner rather than staying up late into the night preparing.

>> Be more intentional about going to sleep earlier, especially when traveling or getting up for early-morning meetings. If you keep your phone by your bedside, turn it over when you lie down so it doesn’t light up while you are trying to go to sleep. Make time for some regular exercise such as walking or running to help improve the quality of your sleep and minimize chances for sleep issues such as restless leg syndrome or back pain.

 

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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In The Turn

Are You Powered by Purpose?

Are you living with purpose?

I think a lot of us ask this question wondering if what we do really matters and if it’s changing the world for better.

Last week on Facebook Live, I sat down with Workmatters president and my good friend, David Roth, and shared some thoughts on what it means to find purpose in your work, make the journey matter and go with the detours in life.

I hope you’ll watch  — and join us for this year’s 2017 Workmatters Leadercast as I’m excited to be the keynote speaker sharing what it means to be “Powered by Purpose.”

You can also read the transcript below.


David Roth: Welcome, Facebook Friends. My name’s David Roth. I’m president of WorkMatters and it is my privilege today to be with my friend, Elise Mitchell. Welcome, Elise.

Elise Mitchell: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

DR: Elise is our keynote speaker at our 14th annual WorkMatters Leadercast and we’re going to spend a few minutes this morning diving into a little bit of what you’ll talk about at the conference.

Elise, Leadercast is about three weeks away and the theme for the conference is Powered by Purpose. Purpose is such a crucial word in our work. Tell us a little bit around what that looks like from a leadership standpoint.

EM: You know, it’s a great question. I cannot imagine not having a sense of purpose in our work. But, I think a lotof us wonder does what I’m doing really matter? Is it changing the world for better? Am I making a difference in other people’s lives? And while we search for purpose – which is a great thing to do, I’m excited we’re going to do that with Leadercast – I think part of that search begins with looking inward.

Really knowing yourself and understanding yourself is important. You have to ask yourself, ‘What are my gifts and talents? Am I really using those in my work? What are my values?” For many of us that’s driven by our faith. ‘What do I believe in? How does it align with what I’m doing?’ And then ultimately, of course, ‘What do I want my life’s work to be about?’

Some of that can be seen over the course of a career, but honestly, I think you want to have that sense of purpose every day. The tasks that I’m doing every day – is there purpose and meaning in those things? It’s very important.

DR: You wrote a book. An incredible book that’s been out for two or three months, Leading Through the Turn. And in the book, you talk about your passion for riding motorcycles. And through riding motorcycles, you learned a number of leadership principles. Tell us a little bit around how those things came together and what that looks like.

EM: Well, it’s funny because motorcycling came at a pivotal point in my life. Honestly, David, there was a time – and you’ve known me a long time, so you know this about me – there was a time when all I thought about was winning at work. And I didn’t have time for hobbies – actually I didn’t make time for hobbies, and that needed to change. My life was suffering because I was focusing on work and needed to reinvest in those parts of my life.

So my husband and I decided to go on a trip together, which we hadn’t done for a number of years — we were just busy with work and raising our kids. I agreed in a moment of insanity to get on the back of his motorcycle and take a 10-day trip. And I remember thinking this is going to be uncomfortable, I don’t know why I’m doing this. But you know what? I got on the back of his bike and I never looked back. I was hooked.

Motorcycling is one of the most exhilarating ways to travel. The sights, the sounds, the smells. It’s such an amazing experience. And most importantly, it taught me about joy in the journey. I realized I was so focused on reaching destinations in my life that I wasn’t really appreciating the ride and the joy of life. I wanted that to change.

I remember when we came back from the trip and my husband said, ‘Elise, you were meant to ride. You should ride your own bike.’ So when I took the motorcycle safety course, I learned a fundamental principle of motorcycling called looking through the turn. It works like this: as you approach a turn in the road, which is where a lot of the hazards are, you determine whether or not there are potholes or oil slicks that might make your bike wreck.

But you don’t stare straight into the turn because, if you do, you’ll drive right into it. Your bike will follow your eyes. Instead they teach you to keep your eyes focused on where you want to end up. Looking through the turn.

When I heard that, I thought to myself this is a powerful metaphor for business and life, and it really stuck with me. I thought, ‘How do I become a leader who is looking through the turn, or in my book, leading though the turn? How do I become a leader who does that?’ Ever since that time, I’ve really made that my mantra and tried to live that way — and lead that way. That’s what inspired me to write the book.

DR: That’s awesome. Also in your book, you talk about bumps in the road. You talk about plans that you had that maybe were different than God’s plans and how you overcame those, how you dealt with those. I know there are a number of people watching this video that are struggling with that. Maybe they’ve had some setbacks in their career. Can you speak to what you’ve learned around changing plans and how you dealt with it?

EM: Well, it’s funny. We always make these plans in life. I liken it to when my husband Raye and I go on motorcycle trips. We get on the computer, look at the map and plan very carefully all the roads and the routes that we’re going to take. But a lot of times the ride doesn’t turn out like that. You have these detours that occur. And I thought how similar that was in life.

I remember a very specific time in my life when I had a big detour. It was a career-changer. And it was not what I wanted. It was very unexpected. And I had a choice at that time that I could go and be bitter about this change or I could go and let it make me better. It just reminded me it’s not as much what happens to you in life, but it’s how you respond to what happens to you that really matters and defines who you are as a person.

I learned some very valuable lessons around that. The idea of being willing to go with detours in life because you’re probably going to end up in some pretty terrific destinations. You can see God’s hand in those detours. I know many people are in personal detours, they’re in professional detours, they’re in health detours, things that are unwanted. And we have to figure out how we’re going to respond in those moments.

DR: That’s powerful. Well, I’ve read the book, of course, a couple of times and I know that what you’re going to share at Leadercast is going to be extraordinary, so much deep teaching from your life as an entrepreneur, the hard lessons that you’ve learned through your life.

We’re really looking forward to you unpacking this in more detail in about three weeks at Leadercast. Before we close, though, I do want you to share with our audience a little bit more about your book and how they might be able to buy it and listen to it.

EM: Thank you. I appreciate that. So the book is called Leading Through the Turn. Published by McGraw-Hill, came out just a few months ago. There’s a really simple thing – one thing that people can do if they’re interested in finding out more – is to go to my website, which is elisemitchell.com.

Everything is there. You can buy the book there. I have a very active blog where I share not only lessons from the book, but leadership lessons in the trenches, things I’m learning every day now. So I post regularly to it. We invite people to join our list there. They can subscribe and get notices of when we post to our blog.

Also – this is kind of exciting – my publisher asked me to do an audio recording of my book. It is available now on audible.com. I actually recorded it myself. The beauty of that is that my publisher wanted it to be a really authentic read from the author, to share the emotion and the passion that comes with sharing my own work.

DR: Well, for our viewers here today, we hope that you’ll join us for the 14th annual Workmatters Leadercast. There will be over 1,000 people there that day so I want to encourage you, if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, to attend Leadercast, but also don’t come alone. Bring a co-worker. Bring a friend. Bring a family member. And for those of you that lead teams, I highly encourage you to bring your entire team.

I can’t tell you with 1,000+ people there, how many people, small companies, literally shut their companies down to attend. Leaders that have a small or large team bring their entire team.

Work is hard. We’re running fast. And this is such an incredible opportunity to just slow down and listen to leaders like Elise Mitchell and nine other speakers from around the United States.

They’re some of the greatest leaders in the entire country. So, I want to encourage you to buy your ticket and here’s how you can do that.

Click on this video and it will take you right to the website. Or you can go to the website at nwaleadercast.com and you can buy your tickets there.

Look forward to you seeing and hearing Elise. And also, just know, that Elise’s resources will be available at Leadercast, as well, so if you want to purchase them then.

Thank you so much. We’ll see you next time.

 

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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In The Turn

My Dear Mackenzie, Always Believe You Can — #InternationalWomensDay

Dear Mackenzie:

“If you fumble raising your children, nothing else you do in life matters very much.” I happened upon this quote during a particularly difficult time for me – we had just moved to Arkansas where I found myself starting over in terms of career and community. It was tough, and I often found myself glancing at this quote, which I had written and posted on our refrigerator as a reminder of what really mattered to me.

And that was you. You were our only child at the time – Jackson came along a few years later. And as badly as I wanted to build a successful career, I knew I wanted to be a great mom even more.

It was then that I made a goal for myself that I knew would raise the bar pretty high and wasn’t a short-term kind of thing. That goal? I wanted my children to be able to say they had a happy childhood. That meant I needed to buck up and get busy every day for the next 18 years at least if I wanted to check this one off.

Along the way, we’ve had some pretty amazing adventures as a family, plenty of ups and downs, lots of laughter and our share of tears. Your dad and I have learned some amazing things from you and your brother, and I realized how hard it is to be a great mom. Yet the goal was well worth striving for despite my short-comings. As I see how you and Jackson not only left the nest but soared into your own lives, I am hopeful the goal has been reached in some small way.

In addition to the ins and outs of parenting, I have also learned a lot along the way about life, love, professional wins and losses, friendship, personal growth and discovery. In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a few of those lessons that I think have been game-changers for me and I hope they will for you, too.

1. Believe you can – Don’t be afraid to dream big, especially if the obstacles are great. Know that you might be the one that breaks the mold or proves the critics wrong. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. If you believe in yourself, you’re half-way there.

2. Trust your instincts – You’re smart. You’ve seen enough of life and come across different types of individuals to know when something or someone is authentic and worth your time. Trust your gut to lead you toward opportunity, toward those who will make your life richer and fuller. Just remain open to learning so your instincts will only get better as you grow.

3. Assume the best – Cynicism is ugly. Hope and potential attract opportunity. Enough said.

4. Never give up – There are plenty of times you’ll feel redirected, but a true win is holding on to something or someone that is truly worth your while. Most of the wins in life are because you hang in there when everyone else calls it quits. In business and marriage, resiliency is key and often means the difference in claiming victory.

5. Earn self-respect – Accolades are great, power and money have their benefits, of course. But don’t make these things your ultimate goal. Always make decisions you are proud of, and in the end, this is all that really matters. Most of all, know how much you are loved and respected by your family. That we are your greatest fans and will always be there to cheer you on.

And while I have enjoyed success as an entrepreneur and achieved many things I dreamed of doing in life, being a parent has been the best job I’ve ever had.

Thank you for letting me be your mom.

Love,

Mom

 

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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In The Turn

Three Essential Steps to Make Your Dreams a Reality

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“I Have a Dream” is one of my favorite Martin Luther King speeches. There is one quote in particular that really moves me – “We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.”

The fierce urgency of now – what a compelling thought.

I love this because I think Dr. King was telling us we need to be leaders who dream, but also leaders who take action. That is the hardest part, right? We all have dreams, but making them a reality is so hard.

We have countless excuses that hold us back like…

  • “I’m busy with living life right now so I can’t make a dream happen.”
  • “I’m worried I’m going to fail.” or
  • “I’m worried about what other people will think of my bold ideas.”

You can’t let excuses hold you back.

My question for you is this – do you have a dream? Do you have something you want to make a reality? Could 2017 be the year you make it happen?

I’d like to share three steps that I hope can help you make your dreams a reality.

1. Just get started – Take the first step – that’s where it all begins. I remember when I knew I wanted to build a company. I slid a proposal across the desk to my boss and asked him to be my first client. It wasn’t until I had the courage to make the ask that it had actually happened. Of course, I didn’t know how to start a business – I had to figure out how to do that! But at least I got started.

The same thing is true when I decided to write my book. I thought about it for years, but until I sat down and wrote chapter one I didn’t have a book in the works. You need to take that first step, and the rest will take care of itself once you’re rolling.

2. Deal with the uncertainty – One of the things that holds us back is our fear of the unknown and our anxiety about what might happen. We come up with plan B and plan C. It’s OK to have plans for things but you must accept that you won’t ever really know what’s going to happen. That’s part of it.

Being a journey-minded leader means you’re willing to live with the tension of uncertainty and tell yourself, “I don’t really know what’s going happen, but I am talented and capable enough to learn as I go. I’ve got smart people around me who will help me, and I know I can figure out what I don’t know once I’m moving forward.”

3. Live with no regrets – I don’t know if you’re a country music fan, but there’s a song I really love by Tim McGraw called “Live Like You Were Dying.” It’s a very moving song because it’s a story of a man who figures out that he’s getting ready to die. He begins to think about how he wants to live life in those last few days – and of course, he wants to live life to the full!

Nobody gets to their death bed and thinks “Gosh, I wish I’d been more conservative in my life.” No, we wish we’d taken more risks, stepped out of our comfort zone. We wish we’d taken that leap of faith. We wish we’d love sweeter, and we wish we’d given more forgiveness. These are all the things that make life rich and full!

So don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t live with regrets. Could you become an entrepreneur? Could you write a book? Whatever your dream is, don’t look back and regret that you never took that chance.

I want to close with a quote that I included in my book, Leading Through the Turn. I won’t tell you the whole story around the quote, although that story’s one of my favorites in the book (hint – it’s in Chapter 11).

But I will tell you why this quote means so much to me. Someone shared it with me when I needed it most – and he didn’t know how badly I needed to hear it. I was really at one of the lowest points in my life, and this quote spoke to me in such a powerful way.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

—THEODORE ROOSEVELT

The lesson for us is this: Get and stay in the arena. That’s where all the action is anyway.

When my friend gave me the gift of that quote, I actually got up out of my chair and took action that changed my life. I wanted to be in the arena fighting for my dreams, not just sitting on the sidelines!

What about you? Where do you want to be? Why not make 2017 the year your dreams become a reality?

It’s up to you. Go make it happen!

 

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Velocity Collective, LLC. All rights reserved.

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