RHG Magazine & TV Guide Spring 2019 - Page 44

Lessons in Leadership: How to Thrive

Without Burnout

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Thrive – what does that word mean? Is it just the dictionary definition of “to grow vigorously : FLOURISH or to gain in wealth or possessions : PROSPER or to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstance?” If it were that simple, then 2018 would have been the year to thrive. However, it was not all that for me. How about you?

Every year I set my intention for the year by naming it. I named 2018 “The Year of Creating a Movement.” Following my own leadership trainings, I crafted a detailed vision for the year using all five senses to embed it into my subconscious. I created a prosperity plan for the income piece; and I set milestones and goals to make it all happen.

However, this plan included not one major launch per quarter but nearly one major launch per month! What was I thinking? I was thinking that I was Wonder Woman; that I had all the energy and resources necessary to make that happen. I knew that I had a great team (and still do!) who could carry some of the load. As a lifelong learner, I was also on the internet, in the library, at workshops / seminars / retreats learning from experts in my field. What I didn’t count on was how much I needed to give of my own energy to create all that I wanted to create in 2018.

I seldom took time for self-care. When I did, my mind was still racing with new ideas, downloads of programs and the like. I never really rested in body, mind, or spirit. How can you thrive when you push 24/7? You can’t!! As the year progressed, my body began to wear down. My blood work looked horrendous. I developed bronchitis from the smoke from the wildfires in Northern California. I didn’t have the resilience to fight off the congestion and only got worse. I do thank the heavens that I was well enough to be there for my first granddaughter’s birth without having to wear a mask.

At this low point, I finally went to see a urogynecologist and a cardiologist about my health challenges. Tests revealed an interesting heart valve defect which we will now be monitoring; the urogynecologist scheduled me for major surgery in January. She noted that I would not be able to work full on for at least six weeks. Six weeks! That’s impossible! I have clients to serve, emails to answer, programs to create, articles and a book to write – how can I do that? the wrong answer. Later at my evaluation, the senior officer matter-of-factly tapped her papers, looked at me sternly and said, “You know you made a big mistake and I have to give you a failing mark, don’t you?” Of course, I said, “Yes, Ma’am.” I thought I had lost my job. Was I relieved when she said she would re-evaluate another class before making a performance decision.

Having “failed” I learned something very important about me and how I teach. Memorizing a script was not my strong suit. So I decided to turn the material into an outline with the key points highlighted. I wanted to have a dialogue with my classes, not a lecture - to connect and make a difference.

Now, I could have given up teaching and asked for a transfer somewhere else. But I didn’t. I took this failure and learned from it. I was close to success, this position was something I wanted, and I did not give up. Edison also said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” This was an empowering message I have taken to heart ever since.

Believe me, this wasn’t my only “failure,” including a senior partner in a Network Marketing company telling me I was destroying my business with what I was doing! At first I felt two emotional choices: 1) You are so angry that you quit, or 2) You are so devastated that you quit. Instead, I followed Edison’s words and set about to change what I was doing.

Failure is an important part of leadership. Each decision you make as a leader will either work or not work. Every time you step out boldly and unapologetically, you risk “failing.” It can be painful - believe me, I know. But you couldn’t know then what you know now from having had that experience. Remember, historically women have not been encouraged or even allowed to step out of the supportive role and into leadership, to take risks, to try something new. Many of us are venturing into unknown territory – so mistakes WILL be made.

This is why I hold space for women to create their vision and bring it into reality, to move steadily forward and avoid pitfalls if possible, and to support their successes as well as their “failures.”

Another fascinating way to look at failure comes from Dr. Cheryl Lentz, author of Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner, who tells us that “many believe that one hires someone for their expertise. This is not quite complete. One hires someone for their ability to have learned from their failure to ensure that when they come to fix your problem with their expertise, they fix your problem the right way, the first time.” So, by failing you are doing a great service to the world!

Ways to face your fear of failure:

Think about failure in a different way; like a powerful tool in your possession to move you toward success, in control of your choices and the situations that may throw you off-track.

When it does happen, recognize the failure for what it is, but reframe it as a lesson and not a tragedy or a flaw in you.

Hold yourself accountable to using the situation to learn from and become stronger as a result.

As you lead others and develop team relationships, be vulnerable enough to share your stories of success, failures, and overcoming adversity or obstacles - so others may learn from you.

Ultimately, it’s about choice - it always is. You can choose to be beaten down by your fears and failures, or you can choose to respond purposefully. Remember, each time you “fail” is a blessing, not a curse; they are sources of power and lessons which you can integrate into your life to become a better leader and a better individual.

“Failure is a reality; we all fail at times, and it's painful when we do. But it's better to fail while striving for something wonderful, challenging, adventurous, and uncertain than to say, ‘I don't want to try because I may not succeed completely.’”

― Jimmy Carter, Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith

us). They learn to marry the two sides to blend into a cohesive approach.

The masculine – command, assertiveness, action – comes into play when, for example, the building is burning and everyone needs to get out. A woman can take up that mantle and use it to bring people to safety. When it is necessary to strategize and bring everyone onboard with a decision, she can call up the feminine by attentively listening to and understanding divergent arguments, holding the vision for the group to keep them focused, and showing her emotional intelligence to help the group reach the best result possible to reach their goals.

This ability to utilize the feminine and masculine qualities is empowered leadership at its very best. And, yes, even today, she may experience pushback. It still takes courage for a woman to step into this kind of leadership with unapologetic confidence. But it’s so worth it!

Women as change agents

Something else we share as women is a passion to create change. We demonstrate it in our homes, with our families, and in the workplace. We generally are not content with the status quo. We may make change in little things such as the flowers in the yard, the number of voters in our district, a neighborhood watch, or a school lunch program. Or, we may aspire to make global change in the areas of clean water, world hunger, sustainable crops and the like. Regardless of what the change is, we bring all of ourselves into the battle. Look at how we marched for women's rights, the right to vote, civil rights, and similar movements. We did not sit behind the scenes and wait – we took action.

Today we are seeing women starting movements to address abuse – sexual, domestic, racial, sexual orientation to name a few. We’re seeing women and teens take courageous stands on school violence and gun control. It was awe-inspiring to see them at the podium in Washington, D.C., and preach powerfully and passionately to the crowd about why violence needs to end. I can’t imagine any sane person not being moved by these children. In many respects they put their lives on the line by being that visible.

Yet, it was more important for them to speak out than to be safe behind the curtain.

The courage and conviction I’m seeing in these movements makes me even more passionate about the leadership training and mentoring work I do. I believe NOW is the right time for women to truly come out of the shadows and unmask their potential as powerful leaders in whatever they choose to do. Our families, our businesses, our communities, and the world need us!

Leadership may seem to you (as it does to many women) like something that is for “other people,” just for heroes, or something you have to be born with. Not so! To me, leadership is simply how you realize your purpose. It’s how you step out for your cause, your passion, your movement. And once you’ve committed to stepping into a leadership role, there is no way you can hide behind the mask or in the shadows any longer. Once you have the awareness of the leader that you are, there is no turning back!

My movement is to teach women how to grow movements. I’ve gotten the ball rolling this year, and my intention for 2019 is to take it to a whole new level, reaching and teaching as many women as I possibly can. The more I step into my purpose with empowered leadership, the richer, more meaningful and more satisfying my life becomes.

As you begin to reflect on the accomplishments of the year so far and what the end of the year could bring for you, take some time to look at how you lead in your life in these ways:

Think about the feminine and masculine qualities you possess, the strengths you show in everything you take on.

Celebrate those qualities and strengths!

Consider how you can empower yourself even further to make an impact, boldly, unapologetically and confidently.

Know that you are not alone, even when you feel that you’re being pushed back or unappreciated. There is a community of women waiting to support you.

And I invite you to contemplate this question: Are you ready to step into leadership in support of your cause and in expression of your purpose, or will you keep playing it safe in the shadows?

milestones based on major star patterns expands your vision. You see that there are as many possibilities as stars in the sky. If you keep looking at the ground, you may miss those opportunities. Especially when things get “stormy” along the way (and they will, as that is part of the journey), what I often say to my clients is…

“Remember to stop and look at where your focus is. Is it on your beautiful vision or on the mud at your feet?”

When you navigate with your eye on the ground, your sight can be very limited. Here is a cautionary tale to illustrate what I mean:

I was an Executive Officer of a basic training company in the U.S. Army. We were making plans to take our troops to the field for a two-day (and night) exercise. One part was to simulate a “nuclear attack,” which would take place at night and, basically, involve a blinding flash of light to be sent at the troops. What do you think would happen to your night vision? Right - it would be destroyed. And the group still was going to have to move over an open field to a very narrow opening in the trees which led to our next destination.

As “cadre” my Sergeants and I had walked the course ahead of time; we knew there were reflectors on the trees to help us navigate the march - my Corporal did not.

During the exercise, I told her that she would be leading us into the opening. She trusted me implicitly. The blinding flash of light appeared. Disoriented but undaunted, she proceeded to move over the field to find our opening. Suddenly I heard a crash followed by a scream of pain. Oops – she had been so concerned about not running into anything on the ground, that she completely forgot to look ahead. If she had kept her eyes up rather than down she would have seen the reflectors and missed those huge trees flanking the opening. Lesson learned!

Now, you can also spend all your time looking up at the sky and miss things that are right under your feet. Like the time I was on Maui, taking my early morning walk around the resort. It was a glorious summer day and my eyes were up watching the sky, the birds, and the bright green foliage of the trees. When suddenly I heard a loud “crunch” followed by “Yuck - that’s gross!” behind me. When I turned around and looked down, I saw on the path a very VERY large snail, crushed and oozing. Had I been monitoring the path while enjoying the sky, I would have been able to step around it, not on it.

The moral: Stay aware and keep your balance

As growers of gardens, of movements, of businesses, we need to be aware of all that is around us. We build our star chart to give us the course we need to take to reach our vision. This gives us infinite ways to go and doesn’t tie us down to a linear path from A to Z. For those of us who are creative, this is what we need to be able to have the boldest, most amazing success with our ventures.

In addition, we need to be aware of what is right at our feet. If a gardener only looked at the sky, even if it were to figure out the weather patterns affecting the plants, she might miss their needs right in front of her. What if you didn’t see all the weeds choking your plants or the aphids eating up your roses or the cute bunnies munching on your vegetables? What would your harvest look like come fall? Would you have realized your vision, or ended up with something totally different?

Like the mariners who navigate by the stars to get to their destination, look up and ahead to keep your “eyes on the prize” to achieve your vision. Just remember also that being grounded to Mother Earth will provide the nourishment necessary for you to shine!

start to develop a vision for the movement, by imagining what the result will look like, not how you’ll get there (for now) but what it can become. Write your vision statement, which will be the underpinning for your journey to a thriving movement, by following these 4 steps.

1. This is the time for personal reflection. You need to go deep into your core to bring up what your values are, and how they translate into your movement. They will become the passion, purpose and clarity you’ll need to carry you through any challenges you may face.

2. Look at your own strengths – are they in writing, speaking, inspiring people, raising money, taking photographs? The gardener considers what she has to work with to create her garden, i.e., soil, water availability, wind protection, her own ability to work the land, perhaps CA natives or certain species of fruit will thrive better than others and still get the desired results she envisions.

Tip: If recognizing your strengths does not come easily to you, then talk to the people who know you best – close friends, family, trusted colleagues. They will definitely have insight into areas of strength to which you are blind.

3. Then create that mental picture. Allow your imagination to run free, picturing all possibilities! Get specific so you can really give energy to it and get a clear picture of what you want to accomplish.

As an example, here is what I see in the movement that I am growing: I see a vision of being in an intimate retreat with women who know they are meant to bring big change to the world and want the blueprint to make it happen. I also see myself standing on a stage before a standing-room-only crowd, passionately speaking on my movement.

4. Embed your vision into all five senses. This is a powerful step that really engrains the vision into your subconscious so that it is out there looking for opportunities for you. Through the mental picture you are writing down, answer:

“What do you see?” Picture the change you want to see - even gather pictures that represent what that looks like. Keep them with you to refer to and inspire you every day. When I was working to earn the reward of a cruise to Alaska, I had photos of the ship and maps of the route we would take everywhere - mirrors, screensavers, doors, in the car!

“What do you hear?” The gardener may imagine birds twittering in the shrubs or the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of people touring the property. I had the John Denver song Alaska and me as my cellphone ringtone (don’t laugh - it worked, I won the trip!).

“What do you taste and smell?” Georgia peaches for the gardener, cedar-smoked salmon for me. Get creative - what would it be for your movement vision?

“What do you feel?” This is a beautiful one for impassioned change. Awe for the amazing people who have come together to work with you; satisfaction in the fruits of your labors; happy faces and love from the people whose lives you influenced?

Then leadership come in

But is a strong vision enough? No, this is where leadership comes in - as Warren Bennis says, “translating vision into reality.”

Back to our garden metaphor, the beautiful garden is a result of the gardener’s work of preparing the soil, buying the seedlings, planting, weeding, watering consistently, deadheading, pruning, harvesting - you get the idea!

Your vision is only the first step in creating a thriving garden or business or movement. Now it’s time to call in your power, those strengths you have identified, and get more specific about the roadmap you will follow to create this movement.

As you further develop your vision statement, here are three tips to bring the “THRIVE” into it:

Include specific goals, what you would like to achieve over this next year; how you want to be known by others who are involved in the movement with you.

Ensure that the end result reflects your core values and identify how they align with your life’s purpose.

Consider how you want your future to be regarding health, wealth, relationships, family, spirit. Ensure that your vision brings balance and focus to these areas.

"A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them." - Liberty Hyde Bailey

Just as a garden requires effort and attention, so do your vision and the leadership activities that will take you forward. A clear, aligned, powerful vision statement will create a strong foundation for all your efforts to grow a thriving movement and impact others in a global way!

RHG Magazine & TV Guide TM - Spring 2019 © All rights reserved.