Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Think about the business world and your workplace for a moment. Is it hierarchical? Flat? Structured? Family oriented? Entrepreneurial? Self-driven? Or something else? Now let’s bring in the concept of emotional intelligence by thinking about two things: What is your workplace like during a crisis? And what is it like in terms of opportunities?

In many companies, difficult situations and crises bring out the worst in leaders and associates. Without emotional intelligence, the politics come out to play, and it can be a dog-eat-dog or blame-game situation. Constructive criticism is taken the wrong way, emotional responses can get heated, overall performance suffers and conflict management is ineffectual.

The modern workplace

I see so many companies constantly operating in crisis mode where stress management, conflict management and effective communication between team members are almost nonexistent. Where workplace politics tend to be the rule rather than the exception. And these companies always tend to produce lower level/ insecure leaders as well as limited business performance and less than average customer service.

Then there are companies that thrive and shine. Associates can’t wait to get there in the morning and be a part of whatever is happening. Job satisfaction and overall performance are high. Workplace conflict is at a minimum. And we wonder what makes these companies so special.

Importance of emotional intelligence

One enormous answer to that question is emotional intelligence where leadership positions are filled with people who have cultivated emotional intelligence skills—soft skills like sincere listening and projecting a genuine interest in co-workers;, people who can relate on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level; who can pick up on nonverbal cues, body language, and emotions of others; who can relate in a positive way and provide constructive feedback while supporting strong relationships between co-workers.

This kind of high emotional intelligence takes care of the unnecessary politics and puts the sparkle in the company. People actually care about the work they are doing. They care about each other. Even more astounding—they genuinely care about the company they work for.

A powerful investment

Companies increasingly realize that professional success means attracting intelligent people and retaining top talent. Savvy leaders also realize the importance of investing in training employees in soft skills and talent development. They know this is a crucial first step to improving the company’s bottom line, because they understand that technical skills only go so far. They know an important secret: That appreciation, inspiration, and validation are as important to people as a paycheck. They know that when people know they matter at an emotional level, you unlock their discretionary energy—their passion. And passionate employees make good companies great.

People need to know they matter and the younger generations absolutely demand it. Companies with good emotional intelligence tend to have good professional development plans in place. They know that goals and achievements are important to intelligent people and necessary to keep their emotional state high while igniting great performance. A certain amount of autonomy is also required, and powerful business leaders encourage people to play their own game within the company’s game. In other words, they address “what’s in it” for their associates.  

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has a number of benefits. People learn how to grow their interpersonal skills and:

  • They learn how to give and receive constructive feedback
  • Conversations and positive emotions are encouraged. Gossip is discouraged,
  • Instead of being risk averse, staff members and team members are taught to embrace risk
  • People respect rank, but don’t pull rank
  • Everybody feels seen heard and valued
  • Discussions and contributions are welcomed
  • A healthy sense of accomplishment is prevalent

Now, let’s look at some of the benefits I just listed in more detail:

Learn how to give and receive constructive feedback

Many companies pride themselves on being “open.” They feel that people giving feedback, sometimes spontaneously in the moment rather than waiting for the “right time,” is appropriate. Unfortunately, woefully few in leadership positions and in human resources know how to do this properly. All too often these become impromptu “dump sessions” with hurt feelings exposed in a raw manner. People are blamed and accused rather than conversed with, or they are minimized rather than encouraged.

There are two types of feedback, constructive and destructive. Obviously. coming across with an attitude and words that convey the sense of “Hey, stupid! You screwed up. You should have done it THIS way,” is not constructive and only causes shutdown, defensiveness and resentment. (You’d be shocked by how often I see this. All unknowingly, CEOs, team leaders and people in management positions end up playing out unhealthy family patterns in the workplace. Without training in the importance of emotional intelligence, they fail to see what would seem to be obvious, but is not: That negative feedback and harsh criticism are how they were taught. This is the kind of feedback they received. And they’re simply passing on the negative pattern.

On the other hand, “feed forward” is a method of relaying constructive feedback in a way that equips the receiver with insights and a potential new skill. From the outset, the intention is to elevate the recipient, validating their potential and encouraging change. Feed forward establishes belonging, while harsh feedback can isolate and exclude. Feed forward takes the recipient into account in a healthy with no shaming or blaming.

Gossip is discouraged, mindful conversations are encouraged

In companies with low emotional intelligence, stressful situations are epidemic and so is gossip. In companies where good relationships haven’t been built and stress management is unheard of, gossip gives people a sense of weight, importance, and credibility. Of course, it also creates discord and a deep sense of mistrust between team members, staff members and upper management and on and on.

For example, I recently worked with a client whose line manager actively encouraged all members of the team to come to him with any complaints or concerns, rather than addressing them directly with the person(s) involved. This created a nest of nastiness, as people quickly learned to literally tattle-tale on each other in order to gain weight in the eyes of their leader. 

By contrast, I have worked with leaders in professional settings who actively encourage crucial conversations within their teams. They invite team members to explore new ideas and resolve issues without it becoming personal. I show them how to use invitational language and curiosity to invite participation and create a safe, solution-focused climate.

Issues are discussed, not people. If there are problems with business performance or issues between associates, intentions and assumptions are identified as well as wants and desires. Resolution tends to come pretty quickly. Such teams learn to know each other well and have each other’s backs. Work becomes a safe space.

Everybody feels seen, heard, and valued

One of the best ways to develop positive outlook and ensure high engagement scores and buy-in from team members and associates is to let them know they are seen, heard, and valued. A great way to achieve this is to close loops. Closing loops also grows emotional intelligence.

So, what do I mean by that? Systems like to know who belongs where and people like to know that they belong. When an associate brings an idea to the table, a very quick way to validate them is to let them know that they have been heard and then eventually circle back and tell them the outcome that results from their input. That way they know they have been heard and this encourages them to give the best of themselves.

Good leaders in the modern workplace don’t just takes notes and move on, leaving the associate wondering if their suggestion landed, was heard, or will be implemented or ignored. They make sure that the input is acknowledged—which makes the team member feel seen as valuable. But then they also follow through and relate how that input might change a given situation. And then they follow that up with a report on the actual outcome.

Failure to close loops can look dismissive or send a message that management is not interested. In companies where ideas and input do not get follow-up, associates become disengaged, negative emotions are generated and a great chance to create validation and buy-in is often missed this way. Additionally, this can create a sense of frustration with management. You will often hear statements in the workplace like, “Management doesn’t care,” or “I don’t know why we attend these meetings because nothing ever happens,” or “Nobody cares anyway. You tell them what is going on and they just ignore it.” What stressful situations that kind of lack of social awareness creates! What a terrible work environment to be caught in.

Quick affirmations

A quick and easy way to let people know they are seen and heard is to respond to the idea by quickly examining the possibilities and potential applications. Even if it is just a couple of well thought out sentences, the associate knows that they have been heard and that their ideas matter.   You can also specify a certain amount of time—establish a timeframe—within which you will definitely circle back to the idea and examine it more closely. And then follow up on that and let your associate know what the final outcome/result is.

Pro Tip: If you are sending a response to a suggestion via email, (not the best approach but unavoidable sometimes) smiley emojis often signal positive intent and recognition. People will read your email and whatever emotional state they’re in—maybe they just received some bad news— if you add that smiley face, there is less of a chance that your message will be misinterpreted and more of a chance that it will land well

People respect rank but don’t pull rank

I work with leaders all the time who get things done in a way that commands respect and admiration. They come across with a combination of charisma and inspiration that makes people admire them. They effectively get things done—but they do it in such an emotionally intelligent way that they bring people together and get them invested in their work. They don’t pull rank or make others feel small. Instead, they empower. They have a great sense of the emotions of others, and have the vital skills necessary to be able to read body language and pick up on nonverbal cues.

They have a deep awareness of others, and are present with everyone they encounter. It doesn’t matter whether they’re dealing with another CEO or a junior sales representative. They listen to even the least senior voice and find value.  Yet, at the same time, they have absolute respect for structure and order and get that feeling across. Systemically, you would say that they know their place, respect it, and respect the place of others. They also have a good sense of the balance of giving and receiving and they create belonging. Not surprisingly, you often hear people say about them, “I want to be like that when I’m head of a company one day!”

Discussions and contributions are welcomed

Experiencing a sense of belonging is one of the most sought-after emotional experiences of any human being. When we have the sense that we are where we belong and safe where we belong, we quickly develop the desire to contribute to our environment and to shine in the eyes of those around us.

It’s fun to be recognized and achieve. It’s a bit like a big game. Good leaders understand this and open up the floor for contributions and robust discussions, encouraging a closer look at new ideas. They are not afraid to not know things, and they are willing to let others shine by stepping up and educating them on some aspect of business performance. Talk about building good relationships and a positive work environment!

Some of the best leaders I know have the emotional intelligence to know that learning never stops and that great ideas can come from any and all sources. If they’re really savvy in their interpersonal skills, they can teach others around them to be open-minded and receptive like this as well. And don’t you know that is the kind of work environment where career success and the bottom line can positively explode!

Pro tip: Over and over again I have watched business associates light up when a leader responds positively to an idea and acknowledgment is given. In fact. I teach clients to take notes of what is said during a meeting and by whom. When it comes time to close out the meeting, they take a moment to directly address each person who has contributed regarding their idea. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.

Unfortunately, on the flip side I have also seen the opposite where slide decks are prepared, presentations are made, constructive feedback and knowledge are shared … and then the not-so-emotionally intelligent leader takes all the information and runs with it as though it were theirs. They do not acknowledge their contributors. Sometimes they don’t even allow them to present their own work.

Such behavior steps all over the emotions of others, shuts down discussion and destroys intrinsic motivation and inspiration. Often you will see those leaders say they don’t have the time to acknowledge and include others. “Time is money!” they say as they rush out the door. Just as bad for building positive outcomes, they will pull rank and posture when they feel threatened.

Obviously, in business situations such as these, there is not a sense of belonging. Instead, people feel used and abused and devalued. As well, there is no sense of a balance of give and receive. Politics gain momentum and even the most capable associates do not feel safe. The leaders make themselves big, taking the new ideas and constructive feedback of others, making their associates feel small, resulting in withdrawal and resentment and other negative emotions, which quickly lead to difficult situations, high turnover rates, poor customer service and a drastic reduction in a business’s overall performance.

The bottom line

With emotional intelligence in the workplace comes a sense of wellbeing and excitement. Associates don’t feel like they have to fight for recognition or guard their ideas. Everyone receives liberal helpings of acknowledgement and that creates a sense of collaboration. 

If you are part of a winning company, a healthy sense of accomplishment is prevalent. You walk into the office every day with an advantage – a good sense of accomplishment already created. And don’t you know that opens the door for even more accomplishment!

As part of a positive winning culture and modern workplace, you will likely find yourself doing more and being more because this is expected and appreciated. And what an amazing gift that is!

When a company understands its goal and purpose and fulfills it consistently with high levels of emotional intelligence, this positive organizational DNA seeps into the bones of its associates. They in turn know what their purpose is and desire to fulfill it positively and well.

The power of purpose

Clear purpose inherently creates appetite for life and career, and with that comes the realization that we need to grow our understanding of ourselves and others. We recognize that emotional intelligence is as important, if not more important, than straight smarts.

In this kind of positive environment, relationships move from transactional to deeply relational and our personal connections and our network truly becomes our net worth. We belong, we give others the space to belong, We pay attention to the balance of give and receive and we take our full place while acknowledging the place of others.

To bring it all into perspective, emotional intelligence in the workplace is the foundational difference between having a job and enjoying a fulfilling career.

To find out more about how to grow your emotional intelligence, attend one of our events this year! For more information about my 2024 events click here.

Can You Be Addicted to Emotional Pain

addicted to emotional pain

Can You Be Addicted to Emotional Pain?

Is it possible that you can experience emotional addiction? Absolutely. Just like physical pain and physical symptoms can take us over, so can emotional addictive behaviors. As much as we dislike emotional distress, it’s such a familiar state stemming from traumatic experiences, including childhood trauma, that for many of us, it can act as a default drive and deeply impact a person’s life. Let me explain.

Many people suffer from cherophobia, which means the inability to be fully happy. Even when they’re surrounded by good news, they’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The brain chemicals from all their negative experiences keep circulating, plagueing much of their lives, blunting full enjoyment. Because their negative view and the particular emotions associated with that viewpoint are so familiar, the minute something good happens, they instantly start looking for something bad to follow.

Emotional Pain Addiction or Emotional DNA?

We call patterns of thoughts, feelings, actions, and decisions your emotional DNA. And in this case, we’re talking about your negative emotional DNA. But here’s where an interesting question comes up. Are we addicted to emotional pain like other addictive substances? Is our emotional response a conditioned inherited pattern? Or can it be both?

Emotional DNA is formed by human beings over many, many generations. We think we have free will, but not so much. Until we know what lives in our family system—things such as past traumas, emotional abuse, suicidal ideation, substance use disorder, and other negative thoughts and emotions experienced by ancestral family members—until we get a handle on the psychological pain of our ancestors as well as the results of the effects of emotional trauma experienced in our own lives, we are at the mercy of multigenerational patterns.

In other words, we are not really living our own lives. Often, we are repeating the patterns of those who came before us or the pain patterns we have unconsciously developed ourselves. Until we become aware of these patterns, we’re not fully present and have little control. Thus we create a predictable future. A future that is likely to be similar to the lives of those who preceded us.

Built over generations, these patterns and inherited painful emotions are often stronger than our desire to overcome them. A sure way to identify such a pattern is to look at where you do things that may not be good for you but you find yourself slipping into doing them anyway because they’re just so familiar. You know, like always getting into abusive relationships, or indulging in alcohol or drug abuse, overeating etc. This is known as being in a systemic trance, which looks very similar to an addiction. Escape from it requires a goal that is strong enough to ignite you to move past the family pattern and your current state into patterns of your own choice and making.

Traumatic Events

I once had a client named “Anne” who explained, in detail, what her emotional addiction and her life looked like. And it was basically a repeated series of traumatic events that created a cascade of feelings around those traumas that she actually enjoyed. Situations that had her heart racing, events forcing quick decisions, and dramas where she got to be the voice of reason all made her feel alive, vibrant and useful.

But when the trauma ended, she wasn’t sure what to do with herself or how to deal with the effects of trauma. Normal day-to-day life felt awkward and dull, lifeless and depressing. For her, traumatic experiences had created a new emotional habit and cluster of negative emotions. The emotional distress was actually acting as a reward system and was preferable to normal everyday life.

So, back to the question of emotional addiction or emotional DNA? At first, it looked like Anne was simply addicted to traumatic events and the emotional high they gave her. But investigating her family system, it turns out she was the only living child out of six. She often commented that life itself, let alone having a good time, didn’t necessarily feel that important. In fact, she found herself drawn more to those who were dead than she was to the living

It wasn’t until she had a serious car accident that she realized the only time she felt fully alive and awake was when she was fully engaged in trauma—moments in which she could choose life. Only in those moments, she was free of negative feelings brought on by the entanglement with her dead siblings and the survivor’s guilt she was experiencing.

Hard Work, Exciting Work

Understanding that she needed to choose life took time. It was a lot of hard work to find purpose outside of trauma. Her loyalty to those feelings (and her siblings) had been built over decades of daily life, and now she needed something more enticing, yet peaceful and non-life-threatening in order to rewire current patterns in her brain and nervous system. She needed to lay down new conscious neural pathways through awareness and commitment to creating and experiencing one new thought, one new feeling, and one new healthy action at a time.

Her first step was to start discovering things that excited her in a positive way—that stimulated thoughts, feelings and actions that created the desire and determination to have something or do something new and life oriented, no matter what. She had to learn how to tell herself a different story and create positive goals to focus on.

Once she achieved one goal, she needed to identify the next goal, and then the next, building forward momentum that would keep her from getting sucked back into the systemic trance of painful emotions and traumatic experiences. You might even say she had to become positively addicted to a new set of patterns that would start to create new emotional DNA.

Identifying & Flipping Your Script

There are several different strategies that you can use to help you flip your script. Here’s how you can identify if you’re experiencing emotional addiction and multigenerational entanglement.

1) The first step is to identify if:

– You always hit the same or similar batch of thoughts, feelings, and actions that keep you stuck.

– Others in your family have similar patterns of painful emotions and addictive behaviors. (meta patterns)

– You would like to do something different, but negative thoughts tell you this is just the way it is and you give up.

2) Next step:

Determine what you’re getting out of these patterns. What are they giving you? My client felt alive during trauma. What emotions do you feel when your patterns come calling? Do you like those emotions? Even if the emotional reaction is negative, are you still getting something out of it? Sympathy? Perhaps an excuse not to shine? Permission to give up? Permission to act out? Permission to freeze? Something else? In what ways are these “rewards” unhelpful/unhealthy?

Ask yourself what staying in your current emotional addiction/addictive behaviors/emotional entanglement is costing you and ask yourself what creating a different set of patterns will give you. Your answers may surprise you. You were built to be a champion, not an addict!

3) Tie your positive goal or outcome to a higher emotion.

Flip the script. Take a deep breath and have patience and grace with yourself as you go from lower to higher emotions. Ask yourself:

– What higher emotion (gratitude, joy, kindness, appreciation, excitement, appetite for life, ambition) is your ‘go to’ emotion when you want to accomplish something?

– Is it stronger than the patterns of thoughts, feelings, actions, and situations that pull you down?

– What will excite you off the sofa and into activity?

Can you identify a goal or idea or dream that excites you enough to stimulate at least one of those higher emotions?

Hint: This may well involve doing something completely different than what you are used to doing. And that’s great! You are reaching past old patterns and consciously wiring in new ones. Keep going! Neuroscientists understand it takes an average of 66 days to wire in a new set of patterns. That’s less than three months!

Be aware of what you tell yourself once you start to rewire patterns.

Change the story, change the language. Instead of bullying yourself, you are championing yourself. You are building resilience and a pathway that keeps you present and focused on the goal in mind.

Be aware of how you feel and act differently as you change your thoughts from low to high.

Back to my client Anne. No, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for her and her life didn’t change overnight. She calls herself a “constant work in progress,” with a strong emphasis on the word progress. She’s quite clear that life is important and does everything she can to think and act that way. She’s also realized that appreciating and enjoying her life is the best way to honor her deceased siblings.

As a result, predictably, her life is a lot more fun and she inspires others around her. When the systemic trance/addiction/entanglement comes calling (and it does), she is not dismayed. She acknowledges the feeling and the familiarity, and then returns her attention to accomplishing her next goal, honoring even the most subtle changes and positive steps as she continues to build new, positive emotional DNA.

To find out more about how to grow your own positive Emotional DNA, attend one of our events this year!  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

What is Organizational DNA? Building Organizational Success

Organizational DNA

What is Organizational DNA? Building Organizational Success

By now you understand that you have emotional DNA and family DNA and multi-generational DNA. But I wonder if you’ve considered the fact that there is also something called organizational DNA? So, what is organizational DNA? It’s all of those common goals, core values, and unwritten rules that you stumble into at work. Like if you’re not the first one in and the last one out, forget the promotion. That is part of an organization’s DNA.

Just like your emotional DNA is a result of the pattern of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions, organizational DNA is not too different. An event happens, or an idea pops in, or a need comes up, and an organization is created around the thoughts, feelings, and actions around the event, idea or need. Simon Sinek, author and inspirational speaker on business leadership, refers to this as the big “why.” What created this company and the organization’s culture? What was the spark behind it?

Competitive edge

To operate effectively and happily within the idiosyncratic characteristics of a company (never mind coming to hold a competitive advantage), you’ve got to understand what drives the company and the important implications thereof. And it may not be the same as what created the company. For example, you may have a service-oriented company that was created because there were not X services for customers. Okay, that was the first step—the spark. But what drives the company forward and takes it to success? It’s not just that you’re meeting customer needs. Perhaps the strategic factor is that you’re ethical. You are honorable. You deliver great service. You know, all those “mottos” and taglines that you hear people use when they talk about a company? What are those driving factors?

It helps to know the faces behind those driving “mottos.” Who is responsible for their creation? Did the company “motto” originate with the CEO? The boards of directors? Were they created as part of the vision and mission statement? Or did they evolve out of the workplace itself? And if they did, what does this mean? Well, if the mottos and drivers evolve out of the workplace itself, for one thing, it indicates that the company is fluid and dynamic and quite possibly a stimulating work environment to be engaged in. And a challenging one.

There are so many different company organizational structures to consider, it’s kind of hard to think about it. You might be looking at a company that is package driven, customer service driven, or education driven. Once you identify the structure, then the next step is to determine the organization’s purpose. In education, it would be something like “creating a better world by creating smarter, happier kids.” In consumer packaging, it would be things like, “What best practices can meet customer needs and make our products appeal to consumers so that they buy them.” Or “What workforce development will demonstrate a family business’s sophistication? All that is your organizational DNA.

Strategic moves

Obviously, anybody walking into a company really wants to do a bit of a study of the organizational DNA model they’re getting involved with. And by the way, when I work with companies, I often find that a company’s motto or mission statement—even a single word or a phrase can throw you off the mark when it comes to grasping the most authentic organizational pieces. Interestingly enough, Tesla Motors is actually a great example of what I’m talking about here. At Tesla, the stated company mission is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

If I’m an engineer, or a production floor manager, or an automotive designer just coming into the company, looking at the mission statement I’d immediately assume that high-performance teams geared towards creating efficiency and fast product design were the primary elements behind Tesla’s organizational DNA. And I’d be totally wrong making that logical assumption! I’m not saying that high-performance teams driving rapid product design are not a part of Tesla’s organizational DNA. They are. But to understand the other equally important drivers in the organizational DNA of the whole company, you have to investigate the mindset and values of the man behind Tesla Motors itself—CEO Elon Musk.

Alongside mass market accessibility, what actually makes Tesla … well, Tesla, is CEO Elon Musk’s vision to create beauty—form and function—as well as to offer an exceptionally high-quality driving experience that just happens to be housed in a sustainable, electric vehicle. Which means if I come in the door and hit the ground running making operational decisions around trying to slam a product together to get a mass market electric car to market as soon as possible, I’m in deep trouble.

Understanding the words and the motivation behind them are so important when investigating a company’s organizational DNA. Here’s another confusing example. Quite often a company will maintain that “We are a heart-centered organization.” While what this may well be referring to is a relationally-oriented company (more on this shortly), in many people’s minds those words have important implications, often translating as a “not for profit company.” At the very least, saying you are a “heart-centered organization” bears the misleading cachet of being a workplace where nobody really does very well. And that kind of negative organizational language can have potential investors, C-suite executives, and other talented people backing away without looking into the organization any further.

Strategic thinking

Perhaps it was exactly these kinds of erroneous, knee-jerk associations senior managers at Tesla were trying to avoid when they created the “mass market electric car” mission statement. Perhaps their years of experience creating coherent business strategy told them few people would easily believe a high-quality, high-performance, mass-market electric car would be possible? So, the decision makers created an overtly practical mission that would match customer needs and expectations, figuring as a resilient organization with resilient team players, current staff and new employees would manage to navigate the idiosyncratic characteristics of a company like Tesla headed by such an idiosyncratic leader as Musk and be able to just go with the flow and get the impossible job done!

As you can see, with organizational DNA there are so many different underlying factors in play. It’s knowing the words and phrases and the driving ideas that form the DNA that keeps everybody coming to either buy from you or work for you. But it’s also such things as, does this company understand money and its place? What is its strategic planning, economically speaking? Is it a data-driven company or a family-driven company, which tends to be much more relational in its day-to-day operations? (We will get into this shortly.) What creates the structure of this company? What are the building blocks? What’s the competitive advantage? Scarce resources? Major changes in the market? How does it maintain its competitive edge? How does it function economically? These are all components of organizational DNA that you need to understand in order to maximize your time and your efficiency in that company.

Data-driven vs relationship-driven companies

Systems are very elegant creatures. What we don’t work out in our family systems, we will often look to work out in our organizational systems, or what we can’t work out in the organization we then take it back home. Very often if you look at the leader of a company, you can pretty much tell what’s going on in their family by what’s going on in the organization and vice versa. So, they are always in service of each other.

Which finally brings me to data-driven versus relationship-driven companies. Data-driven and relationship-driven companies are two very, very different animals. The former is transactional—it’s about product, details, the Deal, business units, high-performance teams, and organizational performance. The latter is about relationships and HOW you get to the end result every bit as much as the result itself. It’s the kind of company whose organizational DNA is built upon the transformative power of strong leadership, which includes things like mindfulness training that can help individuals with stress management and performance management, building cross-functional team work, all of which adds up to a resilient organization with a lot of good people in it—engaged employees who enjoy being there!

Not surprisingly, if you have somebody who’s coming from the one environment to the other, they struggle for a while to acculturate. It’s a little bit like moving from one country to another—it’s a whole different culture.

In a data-driven system or company everything is, obviously, based on the data. Quite often in this kind of environment, the “heart” of a company and the people in it seem lost. People are considered and promoted strictly on functional merit, productivity, and maintaining a competitive edge. Their communication skills, their ability to work well with others, their ability to organize and motivate people are not important. There is not as much time or thought given to the person per se. It’s what you know, what you can do, and how you’re able to do it effectively.

Relationship-driven companies are all about who you know, how you relate, and common goals.  And while this is certainly a warmer working environment, this orientation has its ups and downs as well. In relationship-driven organizational DNA, you may be the smartest, most efficient person in the room, but if you do not build good relationships and play well with others, you’re going to find yourself floundering.

Which means, if you’re a people person, a relationship-driven company that cares very much about the person and their personal development and professional development is going to feel like a good fit for you. If you are data driven, or accustomed to that kind of environment, not so much. Another way of describing the difference between the two business approaches is one is focused on what is known as hard skills and the other on soft skills.

A data driven company is more focused on your hard skills—your accomplishments, on your education, your organizational effectiveness and your quick, accurate decision making. It’s all about what you can produce for the company. The personal doesn’t enter into things at all. These are very clever and smart people in a fast-moving company situation where you are promoted or moved along based on your ability to do or to go to the next level in a hard skill. 

On the other end, with a relationship-driven company, things like character leadership development and the individual goals of employees are important. It’s about fostering engaged employees, this doesn’t mean relationship-driven companies are not effective and profitable. They are super effective and can be quite profitable. They just focus more on people and what can you do for them in order to get success to happen. Can you take people along for the story? Can you engage and inspire people? This is more of your relationship-driven company. You learn very much to go from transactional relationships to deeper relationships.

Smart people know it’s never a bad idea to deliberately set about working in both environments to acquire a full understanding of these two kinds of companies with their two highly different types of organizational DNA, so they can know what personally suits them better. In the past, this wasn’t really possible, because most business organizations up until a few years ago were pretty much focused exclusively on hard skills.

Today, however, there is a growing recognition of the triple bottom line that considers equally the importance of People, Planet and Profit. In this model, it is understood that the transformative power of good leadership can make all the difference—the kind of inspiring leadership that can take a company, as well as the people in it, on a growth journey. As well, there is a very strong trend towards developing both hard and soft skills in individuals. If you don’t have soft relational skills, how are you going to effectively lead people? Plus, the upcoming generation wants to know things about companies and their leaders, like “What is your purpose? How are you contributing to society? And why should we follow you?”

As you can see, hard and soft skills are both highly relevant today. Having a combination of both is going to give you both breadth and depth, which makes you not just a specialist, but a generalist specialist. And those are highly effective people. As well, there are now hybrid organizations blending both approaches, looking for people who can operate in both organizational worlds. So, don’t be afraid to get both kinds of skills under your belt.

Good luck with your adventure!

To find out more about how to grow your leadership, attend one of our events this year! For more information about my 2024 events click here.

What is Conscious Leadership? Leading with Purpose!

What is Conscious Leadership? Leading with Purpose!

Conscious leaders recognize the importance of having a purpose in both their personal life and professional lives. Any good leader coming into a new company culture focuses very quickly—not just on hard work and profit margin, but on determining “What is the purpose of this company?” In fact, they should know that purpose long before they even come through the front door because they’re going to have to come in and hit the ground running.

Why is knowing a company’s purpose important? Well, once you know what the purpose is, you know how to prioritize. You understand what kinds of goals to set. You grasp the conscious culture that needs to be supported and the decision-making process to get there. And once a leader knows these things it means they can begin to see who is a good fit for which roles and how to play to the strengths of team members and employees.

Beyond the status quo

When nobody knows where they’re going or what they’re doing or how they’re doing it, it’s a little bit like the Headless Horseman charging around creating confusion, constantly reacting to external factors. But once you have a clear purpose and understand an organization’s structure, you can lead in a way that creates enough weight to start pulling people out of lethargy and confusion and onto a defined path. You can inspire people to develop greater emotional intelligence and get them excited about personal growth within the company culture. And don’t you know people love nothing more than clarity and a good game to play with others!

So, a really good leader creates a good game around purpose, finds out what’s in it for every single member of their team, and points out a new and different way beyond the status quo of “business as usual.” This is good systemic leading or leadership 101.

Creation not reaction

Those who assume a leadership position are expected to be more responsible, more insightful, cleverer, and more inspirational than most people. Ideally, they are a self-aware leader with a high level of emotional intelligence and a sense of social responsibility beyond traditional leadership models.

Unfortunately, without knowing about the need for purpose and how purpose drives the organization of an organization, many new leaders quite often end up floundering at the starting point. And this is often an unconscious extension of how they were raised as young people in their own homes and educational settings.

Most people navigate life pretty unconsciously in their personal lives, reacting to people and situations, playing out self-limiting beliefs rather than coming from their true self and a more grounded, purposeful, creative position. This habit of unconscious reaction versus creation has far-reaching consequences, bleeding over into many areas of their lives including their professional lives.

A good leader doesn’t just “happen.” Conscious leadership arises when we begin to mindfully consider every aspect and element of our lives on a day-to-day basis. It happens when we’re ready to take radical responsibility for personal growth and start acting out of our true self.

At that point, our grounded creative, purposeful way of interacting with others and making choices naturally draws us into opportunities where our leadership qualities can shine and our hard work and good example help build a better world for all.

Start your mindful leadership adventure

Conscious leadership is a deliberate decision. It is a commitment to developing ourselves at work and in our personal relationships in our daily lives. In the business world, it is a commitment to developing a money-follows-value mindset, thereby inspiring those around us.

It asks a lot of us—nothing less than a full awareness of the self—which includes being present, engaging a conscious decision-making process, validating the positions and thoughts of others while inspiring greater emotional intelligence, movement and growth.

Mindful leadership happens when we deliberately turn to the highest form of who we are—our true self. And it doesn’t always have to take the form of actively promoting effective leadership approaches focused on things like leadership development and social responsibility in one’s team members. It can be something as simple as a kind act, an invitation, a smile, or a helping hand.

The far-reaching consequences of kindness and compassion—especially if you bear an important professional title—cannot be overstated. Sometimes giving a genuine smile is the single most beneficial thing you can do for someone. It’s a powerful tool. Which means you don’t have to hire a leadership coach to develop potent leadership skills. It’s actually the little things that form the core elements of conscious leadership. And those things—the encouraging nod, the casual offer of assistance, the genuine compliment—you can practice and build upon, day by day on your own.

This conscious awareness and attention to sometimes the smallest things can be developed in anybody—which is why you’ll often hear me say, “Everybody is a leader, whether they know it or not.” In those moments when we reach out in compassion and empathy, we take a position of mindful leadership. When we come from our hearts and from our highest level of intent—to put it bluntly, we are purposefully making powerful magic. Coming from the space of genuine concern and consideration for others, our thoughts, feelings, words and actions have an incredibly positive impact and go a long way towards helping develop the better world we all long to live in.

Starting point

Leaders become leaders when they arrive at the starting point, which is: An awareness that there is more to life than just whatever is there in front of them. When they gain that awareness and make the conscious decision to explore that “something more,” they begin to move out of the status quo of reactionary thinking and unconscious action. As their level of self-awareness increases, they develop the belief that they can do and become even more.  Thus encouraged, they then set out to make personal growth happen. When they make that conscious choice, self-limiting beliefs begin to drop away.

At that point, growth momentum and awareness of the self increases and just keeps on increasing. They may not have consciously set out to become a leader, let alone a mindful one, but they end up embodying all the natural traits of a more conscious leader all the same. Then their good example begins to attract leadership opportunities. And as they step into those opportunities, life experiences reveal to them their expanded capacities for mindful leadership and their personal growth expands even more. It’s really a fluid, self-fulfilling, highly-rewarding upward cycle once the starting point is reached!

So, remember: When you decide to stop sitting there wondering when the right opportunity is going to magically arrive on your doorstep and change life your life for the better, and you start taking personal responsibility for creating and directing your own adventure, you’re going to find there is more to life than whatever is currently in front of you. When that happens and your level of self-awareness begins to increase, you will find your purpose. At the very least you will find the starting point for your purpose.

That’s when magic actually does happen! The self-leadership light will spark and ignite your passion. And that’s the beginning of the awakening leader in you. Where self-leadership will take you doesn’t matter. It might take you into completely different circumstances. You may find yourself at the helm of a thriving business. You may find your personal life becoming more fulfilling. Perhaps the single most beneficial thing that happens is you become a happier, healthier human being. You may find yourself speaking at conscious leadership conferences.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is the true you is showing up and leading the show at last!

Be the leader you were born to be

If you want a better world, you are where it begins. And if the idea of stepping into a leadership role in your life scares you, stop and think: Who else in your family is (or was) a conscious leader? Or are you the first? Did your family members struggle with asserting themselves? Were they suppressed? Were your parents unavailable (emotionally and/or physically.) Were they reactive rather than creative in tough situations? Please know that when we are not available it is often because we are in fear and then we become emotionally triggered and reactive. Perhaps they were too fearful to be conscious leaders.

Can you break that cycle? It takes just one person to choose to do it differently. Here are some things you can do to begin building your conscious leadership:

  • Who did you inspire today, including yourself? Keep written track daily!
  • When last did you congratulate yourself for doing something good?
  • Did you take a moment today to notice all the good things that happened? Did you give others and yourself credit?
  • Notice when you are unnerved or unsettled how best you can self-sooth and remain calm.
  • Note each time you do something kind for yourself.
  • Write down the number of times in a day you make someone smile. (Other than yourself!)

These are all things that those big inspirational leaders do—making a difference just by making a little magic. Keep doing these things and watch the compounding effect as the inspirational leader becomes you.

To find out more about how to grow your leadership, attend one of our events this year! For more information about my 2024 events click here.

How Do You Describe Your Leadership Style? 11 Examples

how do you describe your leadership style

How Do You Describe Your Leadership Style? 11 Examples

Leadership is an important piece of who we are, and yet many of us don’t even know we have it. We deny, ignore or flat out don’t know that part of ourselves. We all display our leadership one way or another in different situations. So, how do you describe your leadership style and what different leadership styles are there?

Perhaps your leadership qualities show up as a mother or father, as a sibling, mentor, teacher, friend, or elder. If you lead in the business arena perhaps you help create a positive work environment as a line manager or as a C suite executive or motivated associate leading team members.

Surprisingly, the shape of your leadership has its roots in your family system, but its wings rely upon your inner spark and your core values. Leadership is often coupled to your purpose in life. It’s about the positive impact that naturally tends to show up in various ways, flowing from the space beyond limiting family cycles and the small thoughts you have about yourself.

The shape of your leadership doesn’t have to be big, fancy, dramatic or over the top—you don’t have to run for president or anything. But stepping up expands your full potential and affects others by opening them up to the bigger picture as well as common goals and shared vision. This realisation creates true leaders.

Plenty of ways

Leadership lives with one foot in the world of possibility. In other words, your personal leadership position is part of the chapter that only you can write.

Just like any other aspect of your life, the shape and expression of your leadership or lack of it begins at home. The starting point begins with where and how you show up in your family system. For example, some of us had to take on a leadership role early in life if a parent was missing or struggling, or if dire circumstances led to us having to step in and step up.

Some of us learned the exact opposite—to melt into the shadows in various ways when situations caused us fear or maybe even hide to survive. Perhaps a sibling needed more attention, and we became the good kid and stepped back so that they could get what they needed and so we became invisible. And yet that “stepping up” spark is still there, waiting to be seen and chosen. Waiting for us to overcome our fears and reluctance and step forward rather than vanish.

Your decisions about what happens to you in your life, your thoughts feelings and actions, or inactions all shape your leadership qualities and leadership strengths—your leadership DNA. They shape the leader you choose to be. As well, they shape the leader you abandon at your and others’ cost.

Good example

There is a coach in the NFL who came from dire circumstances. By all rights, this man should have become a violent gangster and yet he chose to rise at every point and build strong relationships and create a positive impact instead. He didn’t fault the parents who raised him.

He reasoned that they had done the best that they could, and it was his job to take the next step to rise to his fullest potential. He also used his upbringing to connect to kids from troubled areas and teach them problem-solving skills. He taught them that they were not victims and that they had a choice to break limiting cycles and rise up within their own communities.

First step

At some point in our lives we have to ask ourselves if we are going to bury the leader within or let it shine through whatever leadership roles seem natural. And when we decide to let it shine, that’s where we start to take charge of our own lives.

When you awaken the leader within, you begin to focus more on what’s possible and having a shared vision. You find you have more of an appetite for life embracing a bigger picture.

What’s actually happening is that you are finally creating an adventure that’s bigger than where you may be stuck.

If you aren’t sure what your style of leadership is or what kind of leader you could be, contemplate your heart’s desire. That is the inner leader waiting to be unleashed by you and what makes a great leader. And remember, you don’t have to lead the world or a basketball team either. Leading, for you, may be setting an example to others by taking a step in the direction of actualizing your dreams, thus motivating others to do the same. This is how to discover your best leadership style.

Help with the decision-making process

If you find yourself lost, stuck, or struggling. If you really can’t see the leader within, or see the type of leadership style that resonates with you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • “Do I know that I have this inner leadership?”
  • “When did I make a decision that I was/was not a leader?”
  • “What thoughts, feelings and actions do I take to make that true?”
  • “What does that decision cost/give me?”
  • “Where would I like to shine?”
  • “Where am I too afraid to shine?”
  • “What am I really good at?” Pro tip – kindness, generosity and inspiration are strong leadership qualities.

Deep inside, everybody is a leader but many of us suppress that desire to get out there and be the biggest version of ourselves possible. We watch movies and then we wish we were the superhero, all the while ignoring the inner prompt to be exactly that in our own lives.

How good does it feel when you accomplish a task or a dream? Once you start doing and it becomes a habit, your leadership comes out to play. Your “can do” kicks in and so does your life adventure.

Some of us may feel that we have never had the leadership skills, or that the term “good leader” doesn’t even vaguely apply to us. And yet in those quiet moments when we wish we could be a good leader … or do something bigger with our lives … the leader is sitting right there along with all the necessary resources waiting for you to take the first step forward.

Just one new thought “I can.” Or “I am going to do _____” begins the shift. One new feeling locks it in, and one new action begins the journey.

Real-life examples

The question really isn’t if you are a leader, it’s what kind of a leader are you? Are you a hidden leader? A reluctant leader, an absent leader? A dramatic leader, a fearful leader? Do you have an autocratic leadership style or an authoritative leadership style? Or is transformational leadership or coaching leadership style more your thing?

How do you describe your leadership style? Below are several of the most common styles of leadership to help you get started. Look and see which one most closely fits you.

Atlas leader – Carries the load for everybody. (Thought: How many mothers or fathers out there would qualify for this?) Do you carry too much for those around you? Are you aware that in doing so you limit the discovery of the potential of those whom you carry?

Team leader – Shares the load and empowers others to find their own way in the world. Shares the ups and the downs and everybody grows.

Crisis leader – Really good during emergencies. (Thought: Are you the person who is super good during a crisis, or do you inadvertently create them?) Is there constant drama in your life? Are you always rescuing or needing to be rescued or pointing out flaws or inflating situations? Do you realize that this may create neediness or unnecessary drama and stress?

Centered leader – Also really good during emergencies. Relaxes or becomes focused and centered. Brings a state of peace and capability to the situation. Always creates a positive work environment and helps others develop problem-solving skills.

Whirlwind leader – Goes in several directions at once but doesn’t complete a project. (Thought: Such leaders often want to be perceived as saviors but instead create chaos and exhaustion.) Are you someone who starts well but doesn’t finish well? Are you aware that nobody gets a win this way? Not even you?

Calm leader – The opposite of a crisis or whirlwind leader, these leaders can project a sense of calm no matter what. (Thought: Calm leaders don’t shoot from the hip. They consider all aspects thoughtfully and make a deliberate decision.) Are you or have you been in the presence of a calm leader? How did it affect you/others?

Driving leader – Pushes associates constantly for more, better, different. (Thought: These leaders expect a lot of their associates but often lose them to burnout.) Are you someone who pushes others to their limits “for their own good?” How do you know what their own good is?

Invitational leader – The opposite of a driving leader, these leaders invite others to step up into their fullest potential. (Thought: Such leaders encourage creativity and failing up. They tend to be glass-half-full leaders.) Have you ever noticed how invitation offers those around you a chance to open up and step up?

Hands-on leader – This leader is very involved with day-to-day operations. They feel that they should roll up their sleeves like anyone else, but sometimes too much. (Thought: Such a leader is often “in the weeds” concerned that the sky may fall if they’re not there.) Are you aware that a hands-on leader may stunt the growth of others if they take over too much? 

Delegating leader – They are hands on but only when needed. Knows when to step in and when to step out and empowers others to find their own solutions.

Hands-off leader – This leader believes that everyone is their own boss and leaves them to get on with things. (Thought: These leaders tend to issue a blanket project and assume everyone knows how to tackle it. Then they are confused when everybody seems to flounder.) Have you ever wondered why those around you are confused, do the wrong things, or feel they are unable to ask for clarification? This may be why.

Available-as-needed leader – This leadership approach is not in the weeds but is available to consult or even go there as needed. They inspire confidence in others and foster a sense of pride.

Parent leader – The big papa or mama bear leader. (Thought: In companies where everyone is treated like a family member, it is very clear who the parent is and who the children are.) Did you have to step up at an early age and take over for one or both parents? Have you never stepped down? Are you aware that you are treating those around you like children—which means they can never grow up? Are you absolutely exhausted by the weight you carry yet unable to set it all down for fear something bad might happen?

Empowering leader – These leaders acknowledge the strengths of others and do not need to be the mother or father figure. They don’t make others small, encouraging them instead to rise to the occasion in different situations and grow their own wings.

Inspirational and visionary leader – This leader does a lot of their own self-development resulting in heightened creativity and followership. (Thought: These leaders are determined, purpose driven, goal oriented, and inclusive. They build strong relationships. They don’t want to do the whole adventure themselves but are inspiring enough for others to take the journey with them.)

What will it take for you to invest in yourself as a leader who inspires and motivates? What difference could that make?

There are many levels of leadership which we will discuss in more depth at another time.  Looking through this list you may find that more than one applies to your leadership style. Each has its pros and cons, and each has the potential for growth.

How you lead matters – not just to those around you but to you. You might ask yourself where your leadership style originated and how you can evolve it. This is the best approach to helping your discover your leadership style and thrive.

At the crux of it all is this. You have the leader within. You have always had it. If you haven’t activated it yet, now is a good time to start. Sometimes when we won’t self-activate it may take a crisis to press the on button which is a whole lot less fun.

Take the time to listen to the part inside you that longs to be…and then start moving in that direction. Not only for yourself but for those around you and those who come after you. Leadership is a door to the life you dream about…open the door!

I look forward to showing you how to unleash your fullest potential and discover your leadership abilities.  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

Why Does Leadership Matter? Being an Effective Leader

Arrows pointing up on a navy blue background

Why Does Leadership Matter? Being an Effective Leader

Why does leadership matter? Well, showing up and being fully YOU (which is the mainstay of leadership) not only serves your family, your community, and your work environment, but it also is the best way to keep vibrantly alive, creative, optimistic, and totally involved in your own life adventure long term.

Leadership Matters

Whether you are aware of it or not, anytime you take responsibility for evolving an aspect of your life you are taking a new course and being a leader.

At its simplest, leadership is how the world expands and goes to a higher level. And it does so through you and every other person who, through much effort and a willingness to uncover the deepest self, takes that self to the next higher level over and over again.

Being a leader involves dealing with your emotional responses to a variety of situations, getting intimate with the right questions and identifying your wants and needs—then figuring out how to make them happen. By leading yourself, taking the next step, finding creative solutions to complex problems over and over, you end up making a substantial difference, not just in your own life but in the world around you.

Clear vision

Leadership brings opportunities, adventures, and learnings. It gifts you a competitive advantage.

When you are passive and do not take responsibility for your own growth and develop self-leadership skills, you are more likely to blame others for your lack of opportunity, unsatisfying work environment, and overall absence of hope. But if you step up when you see a gap, a lack, or an opportunity, not only will you fill that gap and address that opportunity, but you will begin shaping the world around you into the way you would like it to be.

Every single human being has the spark of leadership potential within them and can become a true leader. The question is whether they activate that inner spark or not. The external circumstances—the family and social and work environment—do not matter. You don’t need to research leadership development programs or take a transformational leadership course. Great accomplishment and solid leadership can be developed anywhere, anytime. Here’s an example.

A most significant impact

I was raised in South Africa. I have seen how difficult it is in developing nations for students graduating from high school to find jobs and growth opportunities. Often, in many situations like this, it’s easy for young people to develop their leadership potential by taking on negative leadership roles, running guns or smuggling drugs.

I remember one group of about 30 students with nothing but time on their hands and an absence of hope who ended up choosing to turn all the obstacles they faced into opportunity. Determined to do something good for the public sector with their time, they decided to fill all the potholes in the streets around where they lived until the area that was once derelict and unsafe became cleaner and drivable.

Pretty soon family members and the senior leaders in the community started to follow their lead. This led to a string of other community projects unfolding. Word got around and suddenly the group found themselves in the spotlight being interviewed by different people, including international media networks. This resulted in scholarships for each of the 30 young people and the promise of a job offer to each one upon graduation from college.

Talk about creating something from nothing! Talk about a great accomplishment of solid leadership! Somehow these young people realized that they had what they needed to begin a journey of great social value. They found common goals that tapped their inner leadership and leaned on their sense of altruism and servant leadership that ended up inspiring millions. They threw their whole selves into making a difference.

Next Step

What you tell yourself about who you are and what you can do makes a substantial difference. It’s part of being a leader. Leaders talk themselves and their communities into bigger possibilities. They are not victims. Instead they see opportunities where none seem to exist.

Look around. Do you like what you see in your family? In your school or business? In your community. Your country? And if you don’t like what you see, what can you do to change it?

Here are a few things to get you thinking:

  • Write down a time when you were a leader of some sort.
  • Describe the event. It can be as simple as playing “Follow the Leader” as a kid. Were you always a follower, or did you always try to lead? Or was there a balance?
  • How did it feel when you led? Leadership is often ignited by a decision about an event. Have you always been that way? If not, when did that start for you and what was happening for you at the time?
  • How did it feel when you followed?
  • Now that you are an adult, where and how do you play follow-the-leader? Or do you lead? Under what circumstances?
  • Do you wait for opportunity to come to you? Or do you identify opportunities and “go for it,” showing others the way?
  • Write down your thoughts, feelings, and actions around these questions.

Next, write down something you would like to have happen that will require you to lead the way—if only lead yourself!

  • How will doing this affect you?
  • How will it affect those around you?
  • What new skillset do you need to develop to make this thing happen?
  • What one new thought, feeling, and/or action can you take to start actualizing what you’d like to have happen?

Leadership matters. Own yours!

I look forward to showing you how to unleash your fullest potential and discover your leadership abilities.  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

How to Make Happiness a Habit – Simple Tips to Being Happy

Lady smiling holding a yellow balloon with a smiley face

How to Make Happiness a Habit - Simple Tips to Being Happy

Very few of us are taught to make happiness a habit. In fact, the very idea of making it a daily routine is a little strange. But developing a happiness habit is one of the biggest secrets to creating good health and a more satisfying life.

Positive emotions are what help you to find and stay on the path to success – whatever that may look like for you. Obviously, happiness is a feeling that’s right up there near the top of the positive emotions ladder. It’s the juice that you need to help build resilience, develop courage, and firm up your commitment to make meaningful changes happen.

A Tool for Creating Emotional Well-Being

Happiness is one of the emotions that turns on our creative brain. It encourages us to imagine and take risks. Happiness also helps us to identify goals that are in alignment with the type of change we want to make happen.

Having good intentions and making resolutions are all fine and dandy. But do those good intentions and resolutions you’re making light you up? Do they jazz you? Or are you trying to set them in motion because they fit in your comfort zone? Because people on social media advocate them? Because you’ve heard good things from different people about them? Or are those good intentions flowing from your personal north star?

Here’s a simple exercise to help you find out:

  1. Write each one of your intentions on a single piece of paper
  2. Place those papers on the floor — make sure there is enough room to keep them a good distance apart
  3. Slowly walk about the room and notice your feelings as you approach each different intention
  4. Do you feel lighter in a good way as you approach your proposed new habit? Or heavier? Or blasé? Are you a happier person just thinking about developing that new habit? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment is just waiting for you if you go there? If so, then you know you’ve hit on something you can easily weave into a daily routine that is guaranteed to bring more positive things into your life, increasing your levels of happiness.

Healthy Habits, Bad Habit - They Take the Same Energy

For many of us, the idea of deliberately setting out to make happiness a habit sounds contrived or like a lot of hard work. That said, I would like to point out that sadness and anger and other attitudes that erode your emotional well-being take equal amounts of time and effort to keep them in play. They’re also an excellent way to create mental health issues and other bad things in your life.

Positive emotions are truly a matter of choice. But we have to make it a regular exercise to pay attention to our emotional state and then do the hard work of focusing on positive things instead of bad things. Even if you’re going through a hard time and happiness may seem out of reach now, you can still take steps and do little things over the short term to make a difference.

An Easy Way to Develop a Positive Mindset

For example, here is something to give you hope: If you can find something to be happy about for just 17 seconds a day it will start wiring the happiness habit into your brain. Imagine that! Even in the midst of a hard time, if you can make it a daily habit to set aside just 17 seconds a day to focus on good things—no matter what that might be for you—you will start having a return on your investment within just three weeks.

How? Because happiness floods your body and brain with endorphins—those “feel good” chemicals that are life’s easy way to improved mood and better brain function. By doing little things—like making 17 seconds of positive thoughts and positive emotions a daily habit—you are wiring your body for good health.

Sometimes different things to focus on that can make a big difference are as small as remembering that you are alive. Or that you have a good degree of physical health. Or it’s a sunny day. Or the gas tank in your car is full. If you have a pet, you have instant happiness underfoot at all times, just waiting to happen!

Sometimes just by giving a little something of yourself makes all the difference. How about smiling at someone as you walk past? Or letting someone cut in front of you in traffic? Or holding the door open for someone? Even doing such little things you feel the warmth of that moment of kindness translating into a little sense of happiness.

Another pro tip is to look at any situation, no matter how difficult, and find the good in it. Practice gratitude. Instead of living by the biology of stress, you are consciously creating a pathway to health and success.

Good Things Come From the Right Habits

Before you dismiss all this, let me tell you, from personal experience I know that by applying the lens of happiness—even for just shorts bursts of time—hope is able to stay alive, and possibility can come knocking on your door in surprising ways.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, my world imploded. I had to make some very conscious decisions about being happy. There were many days that I came home from the hospital too tired to even think straight let alone make happiness a habit or practice gratitude for even the little things. Some days I just wanted to give up.

But I was lucky. I have two warmly affectionate cats. They were always around waiting to give me some love. My daughter made it a point on a daily basis to call with little things to say that uplifted my mood in surprising ways. My two nieces and friends were always around, making themselves available to get me through a bad day.

At first, all of those things and people felt like a nuisance. They felt like a distraction from the present moment—and every present moment I thought I should be dedicating to focusing on the physical health of my mom. Until I figured out, that to help my mom I needed to help myself by uplifting my own emotional wellbeing and physical health as well.

At that point, I finally realized that all of those blessings of people and animals in my life were a great source of happiness and the way I could start to practice gratitude. It was a discipline and a choice, but I could allow myself to build happiness within myself even during these dark circumstances. Especially during those dark circumstances and bad days.

I knew I needed to focus on positive emotions and start making it a habit to find ways to evoke those positive emotions, not only to survive, but to cheerlead my mom and to help her to feel that life was good and filled with possibilities as well.

The Present Moment

It is a great truth that the present moment is a gift—a present just waiting to be delivered to your doorstep. Circumstances can, and will, change your life—sometimes from one heartbeat to the next. But the same is true of the attitude and thoughts you create around those circumstances.

Only if you make it a regular exercise to stay present will you be able to find the space and the opportunities around you to stop worrying and be happy—if only for the short term. How do you do that? Well—again, often it’s about the little things. Sometimes you can find solace and new ways of uplifting yourself by being grateful for what is not happening in your life. You’re not under too much pressure at work. Thank you! You’re not having to worry about money. Thank you! New friends have shown up and you’re no longer as lonely as you were. Thank you!

New Ways to Get Over a Bad Day

You’ve certainly heard about the effectiveness of having an attitude of gratitude. Personally, I like addressing the altitude of the attitude of gratitude. So, what on earth does that even mean? Well, especially when I’m going through a hard time, I make it a daily habit to push the happiness needle. It’s actually become a fun game for me.

At some point during a bad day, usually when everything is hitting the fan, I stop and ask myself, “What has gone right so far today?” Yes, sometimes my inner self asks my questioning self if I’m crazy even bothering to ask the question. Yet, if I stop and get into the present moment and pay attention, I can usually find at least a half a dozen things that have gone right, even in the midst of a disaster.

And then there is the seriously fun process I call micro-treating.

Exercise: How to Micro-Treat Your Way to a Happier Life

  • Write down all the little things that make you happy. It could be as simple as petting the cat, eating a piece of chocolate, or stopping at the coffee shop on the way home from work and getting your favorite iced specialty drink.
  • Make sure that you sprinkle some of these little things into every single day. At the very least do some on a regular basis. Add them to your calendar if need be.
  • Really notice when you are micro-treating yourself and be sure to pat yourself on the back for doing this. You are NOT being self-indulgent! You are taking really good care of yourself by creating a positive mindset this way, and that should make you happy too!
  • Sometimes you may want to splurge. If there is a movie that you really want to see or an activity that you really want to do, plan that into your calendar too.
  • Congratulations! You are well on your way to teaching yourself that even in the worst circumstances there is happiness you can count on creating for yourself. And remember: If there is an emotional DNA piece in your family (a family pattern) around happiness/unhappiness, your being happy may just be the antidote to the family’s bad habit of unhappiness.

You are far, far bigger than the circumstances of your life. It is time to embrace your happiness and unleash your destiny. You can change your thoughts, change your feelings, change your life, and change the lives of those around you. You can move mountains if you choose. It all starts when you decide to make happiness a habit.

I look forward to showing you how to unleash your fullest potential and discover your superpowers.  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

11 Steps to Creating Positive Change in Life & Thriving

11 Steps to Creating Positive Change in Life & Thriving

We all want positive change in our lives. But most of us think that life is coming at us or happening to us. Often the idea of creating positive change is out of our control. We work hard to go beyond the status quo, but when change doesn’t happen, instead of figuring out a better way and implementing new ideas, it’s easier to think that it’s other peoples’ fault and fall into the blame game. We figure we just aren’t lucky and stay stuck in our comfort zone.

The fact is, luck doesn’t just happen. You choose it. When you ask yourself what you really want, create clear goals, and take the small steps to move beyond the current situation and finally affect positive change, you realize at a very deep level that YOU are the creator and driver of your own adventure.

There’s More to Life & You Create It!

Have you ever noticed that there are some people in ordinary jobs who do better than others and turn out to be success stories? They do well financially, have a better life than most, and seem to be happy. But what is different about them?

They understand how to find happiness within themselves. They know how to make a plan of action and use it to motivate themselves to go after their north star, make the needed changes, and go get those dreams. They are aware that the quality of their interactions with others matter. They understand that creating positive change within themselves results in those better relationships and improved finances.

These are the people who go the extra mile, who do just a little more, who boost friends with a smile. People around them feel seen and understood. Negative feelings vanish. Everybody wants to be part of their game. They become role models.

No Victims Here!

These are the kinds of people who have stumbled onto another important building block for success in their personal and professional lives. They somehow know that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your circumstances are, that it doesn’t matter whether you know the “right people” or have the greatest support network. They know they have the ability to create a happy mindset – even in the worst situations when negative people are all around them.

Such people are always in “choice.” They choose happiness and make it a habit. They set good intentions and create a plan of action. They also tend to be highly resilient and can shift and make needed changes, learning new skills when necessary. Not only do they maintain a glass-half-full attitude, they have learned that the empty space in the glass is exciting because it is theirs to fill!

Taking Positive Steps

Things happen in life. But that doesn’t mean you need to cave to circumstances and negative feelings. You look at heroes in the movies and wish you could be like that too. And the fact is, of course you can! You are capable at any point in your life of creating meaningful changes when you choose it consciously.

Set goals, create an action plan. Be willing to move out of your comfort zone. It’s the time of year for a fresh start and New Years’ resolutions. Make some! Your good intentions and hard work will get you all the way to your goal. You just have to take the first step and start walking.

All those self-help books you’ve been reading are wonderful, but now it is time to do something with that knowledge and make the needed changes. Unless you start applying what you’ve learned, and create a sense of urgency for change, they will just stay nice ideas stuck in a book someplace on a forgotten shelf. And that’s defintiely not the right path to take, now is it?

11 Steps to Creating Positive Change - How to Make Successful Changes

The secret to creating meaningful change in your life is all about feeling it. So, the first thing I want you to do is to identify something you would like to achieve. Is it a better life? More free time? More love in your life? More money? A sense of real success?

Be sure that what you choose makes you feel strong emotions—desire, happiness, excitement, a sense of urgency. This is part of the energy that will get you motivated and carry you past the first step. Now:

  1. Identify all the reasons standing in the way of you doing what you desire.
  2. Burn them or tear them up.
  3. Take the time to identify 10 steps that you think will facilitate you getting to your goal. (Yes, it sounds like a lot, but most of you will need that many!)
  4. Write them down.
  5. Understand that the steps will not always be in sequence.
  6. Understand that no step is too small. A small step is still a step towards your goal!
  7. Make sure that all the steps you write down take you towards your goal, not away from it.
  8. Set a timeline for accomplishing your first step.
  9. Congratulate yourself on each step that you accomplish. (This is what all champions do. It’s one of the main reasons that they get results.)
  10. No trash talking. If negative feelings come up, acknowledge them and then move on.
  11. When you achieve your goal, acknowledge it, celebrate it, and share it if appropriate.

Congratulations! When you do this exercise and take these steps seriously, you will be well on your way to creating the better life you’re intending for yourself. You simply have to show yourself that it’s possible.

Now … identify your next action plan and goal! Once you’ve taken the steps and made things happen for youself, no matter what might stand in your way, there’s a real fire of excitement that builds. And you’re building it. Remember, the passion of desire can move mountains!

Be sure that what you choose makes you feel strong emotions—desire, happiness, excitement, a sense of urgency. This is part of the energy that will get you motivated and carry you past the first step. Now:

What Next?

The point of this exercise is to show you how capable you really are when you consciously identify what you want and take action to achieve it. To lock in and ramp up the magic of the exercise above and teach yourself to consistently create the life you want, I suggest two action plans.

Option 1: We all like gold stars. Get yourself a journal and dedicate a page to each step that you’ve identified. As you complete each step, give yourself a gold star and write down how you felt about achieving that step.

Option 2: Buy a book that holds business cards—you can get them at any office supply place. Write down each step on a piece of paper. As you complete each step, fold up that piece of paper and put it into one of the card holders. Write down any thoughts and feelings about that step and place them in the same holder.

These actions help you build a treasure map directing you toward positive change. They also provide you with tangible evidence that you are on your way. And at the completion of each goal you set, give yourself 5 stars. (At least!)

I look forward to showing you how to unleash your fullest potential and discover your superpowers.  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

Limiting Belief Examples

Same thing goes with other examples of systemic language. Every profession, every club, and every sport have their insider lingo. Culturally, we  taught a lot of catchy phrases, like “No pain, no gain.”  (Thank you, Jane Fonda.) Or “Only the good die young.” (Thank you, Billy Joel.) But what a terrible, unconscious patterns to learn to live by! 

Sure, there are positive cultural influences. For example, we’re schooled to believe that developing successful habits and successful thinking is how to be successful in life.  But we just can’t escape the less healthy cultural influences. A client of mine, Joe, has two boys. He also has a big heart and is easily touched by kindness and even unkindness. He has been careful to model emotional availability to his sons. And yet, recently, when they all were watching a movie and he found himself moved to tears, he was surprised when his oldest boy admonished him, saying “Dad, men don’t cry.” 

Joe knows where that comes from, he’s been told it all his life.  He also knows that he is strong and successful. And yet he still feels a little shame when he does cry. He asked me, “Is it possible to be fully male and strong and yet cry?”  

I said, “Of course! you just have to keep challenging this commonly held, but erroneous assumption, whenever it rears its head. When you do this, not only does it change the situation for you, but for your sons and other men as well.”

How to Change your Thoughts and Feelings ... and Your Life

As we speak so we think and feel. We are teaching our brain to tell our body a story it can believe. When we change a language pattern, we change our thoughts and emotions. Let’s take money as an example. Many of us speak, and thus believe and act, in alignment with money patterns already in existence.  For example, we’re taught that having money is vitally important. We’re also taught that having money is bad, wrong, and greedy. We hear the words, “Money is the root of all evil.” 

Yikes! How to create a positive mindset around money with those kinds of conflicting truths?

The difference between those who struggle materially and those who succeed does NOT just hinge on their environment or circumstances. It rests, in very large part, on the systemic language and multigenerational family patterns they inherit and embody. It also depends on your willingness to change limiting systemic language and implement the power of positive words.

Give your Money DNA a Boost


If you have “money issues,” start carefully monitoring how you talk about money. How often do negative money sayings crop up in your mind? How often do you find yourself saying, “Oh, I can’t afford that” or “I wish I could afford that”?

Your money DNA can be changed by asking yourself a simple question: “What if something different is possible? What if I could afford it?” Right there, you’ve opened the door to a whole new possibility.

Do you judge people who have money? Stop it. Instead, find inspiring examples of people who are addressing some of the world’s problems precisely because they have accumulated wealth, been wise stewards, and can put money to good use. 
What happens if you begin to view money with respect and even affection?  What happens if you say (gasp) “I love money” or “Money and I are good friends!” When you do this—when you change your systemic language around money—you are rewiring your brain AND your life. Imagine that? You are able to change your financial circumstances one new thought, one new feeling, and one new action at a time.
And if you find yourself thinking this kind of simple change won’t make a difference to your finances, I challenge you to look at your limiting systemic language and put one new thought, feeling and action around money into play for one month. Also look out for other kinds of sabotaging thoughts/language/actions, like, “Nothing I do ever works.” Or “It would take an Act of Congress to change my financial situation.”)
Systemic language is HUGE.  Changing your language can help you rewire your brain for success and change your money mindset. Explored and employed consciously, you can begin crafting and more fulfilling and exciting life.
Elevate your money mindset! Join me at our special Disney World event November 5-8, 2023. 
For more information click here.

Breaking Generational Patterns and Learning how to Enjoy Christmas Again

Breaking Generational Patterns

Breaking Generational Patterns and Learning how to Enjoy Christmas Again

Okay, maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas or any holidays. But the holiday season can still be filled with stress, rush, overindulging, disappointment, family conflict, and stress followed by a major sigh of relief when it’s all behind us. Even our holiday movies are filled with family catastrophes before they end in happiness. This is an ancient global meta pattern. But can breaking generational patterns help us to find joy at this time of the year?       

The holidays—whether you celebrate them or not—often times are when ancestral pain and multi-generational patterns are on full display. Yet, the potential for having fun during this time of year is enormous. All you have to do is take a look at things a little differently and learn how to deal with family stress and other triggers during the holidays

The happy mindset

In the West, the holidays are designed and expected to deliver a happy mindset and miracles. In fact, it is the one time of the year when a large number of people around the world—including non-Christians—are not resistant to great things happening. For example, soldiers putting down their rifles, crossing enemy lines, and joining one another in festive celebration for the day.

Why don’t we teach ourselves to take advantage of that?  If we tune into that energy—the energy capable of remapping the brain for peace and brotherhood—creating the rewired brain, we stand a really good chance of creating a great festive season and delivering some miracles of our own.

In place of glum duty, we can consciously create benevolence, generosity, fun, and laughter. Having to go to Aunt Sally’s house for a turkey dinner can turn into an adventure. Even if you’re a vegan, you can still create a special dish everybody can enjoy. (Including you!) Now, suddenly, by expanding yourself there is a little more happiness in you and in the world. You’ve had one new thought (the special dish), you’ve also had one new feeling (excitement), as you’ve taken a new action (creating and bringing the dish). 

The secret habits of happiness

Doing little things for ourselves and others is one way we evolve our happiness quotient. It isn’t about huge steps at a time, although it can be if you choose. It can be something as simple as noticing what’s going well even in the most difficult moments.

How to find happiness within yourself is a process starting with one new thought, feeling, and action at a time. Building on that step-by-step process, you begin to create strong relationships and joy. You begin rewiring and remapping the brain—your brain. Now a continuation of your sad or disappointing life is no longer the inevitable future.

Once you take this magical journey with commitment, it becomes very clear that you are not a victim, but a co-creating master of your own life and quite capable of unleashing the miracle of a happy mindset any time of year, any time you want, for any reason you choose.

Happily excited

The miracle of the holidays is that they call for the best in all of us to show up, take action, and offer a chance to make happiness a habit, not just something that happens at a set time of year. If you choose, you can make the entire year—your entire life—a festive season where you look forward to living every day, happily excited to be on this earth, capable of anything. Even turning a dreadful holiday dinner with Aunt Sally into a feast everyone can enjoy.

How to build a happy life

Want to know how to build a happy life? One way is to treat everyday like a holiday, a holy/wholly day where you unleash your joy and embrace life fully, simply because you can.

A good way to begin is by asking yourself what’s possible and “How can I make a positive difference?” There are opportunities every single day to be kind, to smile, to listen or to offer a helping hand. Most of these actions don’t cost a penny, but they make all the difference to others, to ourselves, to our own peace of mind, and to our relationships.

The more you invest in creating your own magic, the less entangled you are in multi-generational shackles. And this festive season is the perfect time to begin writing your own new chapter.

Quick exercise:

  • What one limiting thing do you say, think, or feel about the holiday season?
  • When did that start for you?
  • What was happening in your life at the time?
  • Is that still true?
  • Does it serve you?
  • Is it time to change that story?
  • What one new thought, feeling, and action can you take to begin activating a happy mindset no matter what time of year it is?
  • Contemplate the difference that will it make to you and those around you.

Remember, your happiness quotient is truly in your own hands. And it all starts with breaking generational beliefs and patterns—no matter what sets them in motion. 

This year I want to challenge you to consciously build your happiness mindset starting with this festive season. Notice what one thing you can do to contribute to the miracle of rewiring your brain to think your way to better patterns and a happier more fulfilled life.

I look forward to showing you how to unleash your fullest potential and discover the superbeing in you.  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

How to Move Forward in Life When you Feel Stuck

How to move forward in life when you feel stuck

How to Move Forward in Life When you Feel Stuck

Learning how to move forward in life when you feel stuck can at times feel overwhelming. Most of us don’t learn how to stop holding onto the past.  Something happened to us early in our lives that has us stuck, and we can’t move forward out of anger, fear, confusion, sadness or maybe bitterness. 

Or perhaps something happened to a family member in the past and we inherited family trauma. A high percentage of the time we have good justifications for feeling the way we do—especially if we’re dealing with ancestral pain. 

But here’s the one simple question to ask yourself about all this: “Am I really enjoying holding onto the past? Does it feel good being stuck?”

Chances are the answer is “No.” But you might feel safe in the misery because being miserable has become so familiar. And you might feel safe because you feel like you are fitting in by repeating family patterns. But none of it feels good.

Ghosts of Christmas past

Remember Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the miserable miser Ebenezer Scrooge? He and his family lost all their wealth in the Napoleonic Wars and he spent his lifetime regaining that lost wealth. But did he have to reject all happiness, warmth and generosity while doing so?

It took a near death experience for dear old Scrooge to realize how much life he was missing out on by carefully nursing his bitter miserliness. What is it going to take for you to stop holding onto things from the past and transform your own wounds? What is it costing you?

That person who wronged you is probably getting on just fine with their life. If you’re waiting for them to open their eyes and realize what they did to you, feel sorry about it, and apologize, you may wind up severely disappointed and embittered. You might waste many many beautiful moments and beautiful days and stewed and been angry over what is basically spilt milk—history—the past—done and over done.

It's up to you to break generational trauma

If you find yourself holding onto the past and old hurts, it’s truly worth checking to see where that originated and what unresolved pattern is waiting to be seen. Once you can see it and give it a place, you no longer need to be stuck. Maybe something happened to an ancestor that was so offensive or traumatic that it created an epigenetic imprint on your family system.

Perhaps somebody cheated your great-grandfather out of the family farm and ever since then the whole family has been suspicious, rejecting everyone who offers assistance and everything that looks like a good deal when it comes along. Maybe there are disputes over land and nobody knows why. Maybe the inherited family trauma has passed down to you and you pinch every penny until it screams, never accepting help from anyone and wonder why.

Maybe that Scrooge pattern is looking for you to finally put down the ancestral pain and allow the happiness, finances, and land ownership to build and flow again. I remember a client of mine who came in near the holidays a few years ago, complaining about “stupid Christmas” and how much he hated it. How everyone in his family just went through the motions, exchanging awful gifts and eating a dreadful Christmas meal before they all, duty done, went their separate ways.

“Pain travels through family lines,” I said. “It’s up to you to break generational trauma. You actually can choose to enjoy Christmas..”

He frowned and said, “That isn’t allowed in my family.”

“Why not?”  I asked.

He had no idea, but after talking with his father he reported that his great-grandmother had died on Christmas Eve. The family had gone through the motions to give the kids a decent Christmas that year. But after that nobody ever enjoyed Christmas again.

Recognizing the pattern of pain and duty that had been passed down through his family system, he saw that he could, indeed, break the generational cycles and change the situation. He dove into Christmas preparations with determination and no small amount of glee. “It was the best Christmas ever!” he declared with a grin at our next meeting. “I did it! Three generations of misery were finally put to rest with a celebration for the ages. I’m already making plans for next year!”

Healing ancestral trauma

We all carry emotional wounds and scars that have traveled through our family line, passed down generation to generation. The thing is, each one of us has a choice. Like Scrooge and like my client, we all have the ability to search out and identify ancestral pain patterns and then consciously move beyond them.

If you truly want to make a difference in the world, it begins with creating your own happiness. And that begins with understanding what lives in your family system and unleashing its hidden potential. When you are willing to look, things are able to change. You are the one your family system has been waiting for.

May all your dreams come true this season, may your hearts truly be merry and bright. And may you finally realize that for that to happen, you must be willing to look, and then shift. Above all, I wish you good shift this holiday season and happy adventuring in the coming new year!

To find out how to move from stuck to happy and thriving, join me at one of my events in 2024.  Our mission is to make the unconscious conscious and the invisible visible, so that you can fulfill your destiny—a happy one!