125: Leaders with Heart Course Correct Themselves and Others with Care

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In this episode, Heather interviews Curtis Martin, CEO of FOCUS about his drive to lead, his leadership style, his struggle with patience, and a time when he took his eye off the business and abdicated responsibility.

Key takeaways:

  • Don’t abdicate responsibility but be there to guide people.
  • Show the balance of care and strength. 
  • Take the long view when leading so that you can create tension for the long term goal benefits.
Don’t miss this insightful episode!

Curtis Martin is the founder and CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), one of the fastest-growing college outreach apostolates in the Catholic Church. 

FOCUS was founded in 1998 as a national outreach to college students on campus. Starting with just two missionaries on one campus, FOCUS now has hundreds of full-time missionaries serving tens of thousands of college students on campuses throughout the United States. FOCUS is working to play a vital role in the New Evangelization called for by Pope Saint John Paul II. 

Curtis Martin holds a master’s degree in theology and is the author of the best-selling book, “Made for More.” Curtis is likewise the co-author of “The Real Story: Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible” with Dr. Edward Sri and “Boys to Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue” with Dr. Tim Gray.

In 2004, Curtis and his wife, Michaelann, were awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Saint John Paul II for their outstanding service to the Church.  In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Curtis as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization. Curtis and Michaelann live in Westminster, Colorado. They have been blessed with nine children.

The Prodigal Son

The story that Jesus told of the prodigal son was my life. I was blessed to have parents who love me. The table is set for me. It was a great life, but I wildly squandered it growing up. I was a train wreck when I was 18. I realized that I have only one life and I can live differently. So, I decided to come back to my center and live.

Sometimes people walk through life saying, “I could do whatever I want. I’m not hurting anybody.” In truth, you might not be hurting anyone but you are supposed to do something to help people. 

I cannot fix everything. But I can fix something. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Ripple Effect

The key is create a ripple effect of impact by God’s grace—not just setting things better for others, but to teach them how to do it for others whom could also be taught how to do it for their people. 

With this, you’re also able to impact people you’ll never meet by paying it forward. This is a better way to live life than simply avoiding hurting people.

Some people believe in life after death, and some people don’t. But whatever it is, you’re done. All you have is a memory, but that memory lives on.

We live in a world with radical poverty. There’s breakdown of families, and marriages and children are in need. There are more people in slavery right now than ever in the history of the world, whether it is the typical slavery of work, sex slavery, or drug abuse.

You could spend the rest of your life addressing these issues and making people’s lives better, or walk through life hoping not to hurt anyone. I think that the former option, choosing to live for others is such a compelling invitation to form meaning and purpose in people’s lives. That’s a really exciting way to live and to help other people to live.

People start to come alive when they realize that they could walk through life and set things better. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetFriendship is a wonderful ointment—in the midst of life, you are sharing life. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

On Friendship and Parenting

I’ve worked to establish friendships with the people that I lead. It’s been an honor to not just work with them but also to be invited to weddings and to their homes. You may throw an elbow or step on a toe unintentionally, but friendship is an ointment that heals that wound. I’ve been blessed to work with great people

Many of us are parents. I am working with a 12 year old, and I have an impatience with parenting. It’s a slow walk, and I know they’re not going to be living in a mature life overnight. 

My goal is not to be a buddy, but to be a coach. We can be buddies 20 years from now, but I want to be friends with you a million years. So, I do not care whether I lose a little bit of credibility because I take phones away.

As a father, I have to play the long game all the time. Sometimes it’s three steps forward, one step back, and that’s okay as long as we continue to make progress.  But remember the goal we’re aiming for.

We are patient with one another, even in failures because we’re willing to lose our battle. This is not a war against people. We aim to win people’s minds, hearts, and trust to care for them and help them overcome obstacle that keep them from experiencing lasting joy.

Great vision and great investment covers for impatience and imperfections. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe're always grateful, but never satisfied. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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How to Eliminate a Victim Mindset

victim mindset

Backstory

 

I worked hard to eliminate my victim mindset. “Victim” is defined as (1): one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent (2): one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment.

Over a year ago, I stepped onto the TEDx stage to share a part of my story of overcoming adversity and a victim mindset. At the time, I remembered seeing what I thought of as “victim” thinking on a large scale. Whenever I turned on the news, the story line was that this person or group of people did this thing, or could not do this thing, because these things happened to them and made it impossible for them to make different and better choices. As such, I was growing disheartened by the growing message that people must accept their circumstances and place limits on themselves as a result.

In my TEDx talk titled, Transforming Adversity into Opportunity, I shared a portion of my story where I was an outcast in my own family, because of my race. Unfortunately, I felt like I wasn’t good enough, worthy, listened to, cared for, or important. While my family experience hurt me deeply, I did not let their perception of me be the end of my story; I refused to use my circumstances as a crutch. You see, while I may have been victimized, I could choose whether I would define myself as victim. 

When I refer to victim in this context, this is not meant to be against victims themselves. Rather, in the behavioral context, I am referring to the ability to think and act counter to any impact of a challenge or threat we are facing. While many of us do have to fight against our very real feelings of being victimized daily, what wins out is what matters.

For most, it is hard to think differently when faced with adversity. The things that are happening to us or around us are very real. Fight as we might to set them aside, we are often stuck, which makes it hard to move forward. Nonetheless, if we are to move forward and overcome the thing that threatens us, we must think and act differently about our circumstances and disavow a victim mindset.

Below are three main strategies I use to change any victim thinking to that of empowerment and action:

1. Put on the armor

 

When I reference “put on the armor”, I don’t mean that we cannot be human and feel the pain of our circumstances. To the contrary, we must recognize what is happening to us, but we must create a sort of “adversity deflector”. Recently, I watched one of my favorite movies, Remember the Titans. In it, Denzel Washington, a black actor, plays as the head coach for a recently integrated high school in the South in the 1960’s. What strikes me most every time I watch it is his ability to recognize how the community negatively perceives him, and his similar focus on putting on the armor, staying centered and, despite it all, moving forward to achieve his vision for the team.

I know that this practice is not easy. Right now, I see my cousin, who has been fighting breast cancer for ten years, hold a smile on her face even after tough days of treatment. I don’t hear her complain. Quite the opposite, I see her walk with her shoulders high and put on the armor of great courage.

She has effectively eliminated any victim mindset.

2. Learn to reframe

 

In my TEDx, I spoke about the process of reframing, which is something I do all the time. The best way to begin this process is to see our circumstances as a gift. For example, what did you learn because of the challenges you faced or are facing? Often, what we learn replaces what we lost, or the pain we experienced.

The real process of re-framing requires, first, that we recognize and even write down our irrational thoughts surrounding the challenge. Then, we must actively and intentionally change the irrational thoughts into rational thoughts. Then, what I do is visualize a “switch” in my head, and I flip it to help me see the positive side and move forward.

If we are to shed a victim mindset, we must reframe our way there.

3. Focus forward

 

While I do believe that the stories of our past are useful in helping us and others move forward, we need to create new forward-focused stories. The most effective way to focus forward is to write down your goals and desires on paper and place them in front of you. Over twenty years ago, I was a Sales Director with May Kay Cosmetics. One of the strategies they taught was to have affirmation posters that were both visual and descriptive. Fortunately, this helped me stay focused on moving forward and not making excuses. As such, there was very little room for victim thinking.

Another way to keep focusing forward is to surround yourself with people who move that same way through life. Think about it, if you hang around people whom are always looking back, or making excuses, you will be tempted to do the same.

Lastly, it is easier to focus on one step at a time, but while putting one foot in front of the other. Visualize that for a moment. When we focus on the forward movement, there is not time or need to look back. As such, I keep multiple things on my radar and as a part of my plan at a time so that I am focusing on the very next thing.

Conclusion

“Woe-is-me” thinking and acting gets us nowhere. If we want to move forward, have impact and uplift others, we must put on the armor of courage, learn to reframe the irrational and focus forward on what we can influence and change. When we do these things, we empower ourselves to act as victor and not as victim.

If  you are struggling to uncover what you can influence, having a hard time making excuses for moving forward, or need to find your personal power, download my free mini-course and action-planning guide to help you focus-forward.

Click download link below.

124: Leaders with Heart Find a Way to Be the Solution

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In this episode, Heather joins listeners in a personal journey during COVID-19, the racial divide, and writing a book.

Key takeaways:

  • Be the solution to the problems in our world. Don’t bail out from taking responsibility.
  • You are worthy of your leadership. You are good enough for others to care for. 
  • We can all choose to be unstuck post-COVID-19.
Prepare your ears for this wonderful episode!

Updates on the Book

I am excited to report that I already finished the first draft of the book and I was able to give it to the publishers for sending out to reviewers. Now I am getting feedback. This gives me the opportunity to look back at my manuscripts with a fine-toothed comb and start to work on the changes based on their review.

Not all of it was awful. Most of it were very insightful. No one said that I need to go back to the drawing board. I feel good that that did not happen. But I have work to do to get that done.

We cannot control everything. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Black Lives Matter

One thing that continues to happen throughout our histories is the treatment towards people of color, predominantly Black Americans but also other races. When we think and learn more about it, we have to stop seizing the opportunity in a negative sense, of treating people with darker skin as lesser people. Historically that is how it has gone and it has been opportunistic and gearing towards selfish interests.

We cannot change the system, the processes, and how America is formed. Some of us might have the power and control to do it, but some of us have the ability to control our mindsets and how we think of all humans, including people before us, first. How are we supposed to be acting with them? How can we show up and stand up?

What we must think about is the role that we play in the process and in the solution. Know that you have and possess a certain amount of power, authority and ability to show up differently, to be antiracist, and to support all humans: the people, the brothers and sisters around you. 

So I ask you to stand solidly in your shoes, take your responsibility, and be accountable for your own things. You must not get completely overwhelmed with every single thing in the world.

We can control lots of things and we can influence many. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou possess a certain amount of power, authority, and ability to show up differently and be anti-racist. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Art of Caring

One of the things that came in my heart when I was writing the book is the title, the Art of Caring Leadership: Why Leading with Heart Uplifts Teams and Organizations. This is based on this podcast and all the people I have interviewed.

I adore every single guest I had on my show. I have experienced so much richness and value, and I didn’t set out to write this book when I wrote this podcast. But little ways in, I realized that I have got to share these people with the world. 

We have to stop treating people with darker skin as lesser people. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI find great excitement and thrill by highlighting and uplifting others. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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123: Leaders with Heart are Co-Owners of a Vision with Those They Lead

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Craig Miller, President of FOCUS or Fellowship of Catholic University Students, about his leadership style, where his drive to lead comes from, his focus on minimizing his ego and much more!

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t focus on serving yourself but serving others.
  • Decide whether or not you are claiming positions out of ego.
  • Bring people along with you by spending time with them, and help them see their role in a vision.
  • Search for those who have an ownership mentality and not a hireling mentality.
  • Try to harness a common mission.

Craig Miller is the president of FOCUS. 

In 2003, after a career in Silicon Valley that included leading sales and cooperative marketing for Cisco’s global accounts, Craig accepted Curtis’ invitation to help manage the operational needs created by FOCUS’ growth. Since then, Craig has overseen all aspects of operations, administration, development, and finance as FOCUS continues to grow and develop on more than 100 campuses today.

He lives in Genesee, Colorado with his wife, Melissa, and four of their six children.

Student of Leadership

I’m a student who is always in a mode of learning. I think one of my greatest fears is to watch things in your life happen to other people. I think it will only happen if you let it, like thinking that you have arrived and stopped at being a student of leadership. There’s just so much to learn.

I am blessed with working with a lot of young people in the work that I do. There’s so much to learn there, and hopefully the journey continues. I am always a willing participant, and I will take up as much as I’m allowed to.

Get a drive from a more pure place. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building People

A lot of people who work on missions have personal goals that align really well. With these people, it’s more like brothers and sisters in a band together for a common purpose. It changes the way you perceive your staff and how you manage them.

But I struggled with why it isn’t good enough in itself. Why is having people with a great passion or temperament for the type of work they’re going to do not good enough? Why can’t we just let it work there? If things aren’t really working out for them, or they’re not really thriving in the selected work, why don’t we just leave them alone?

You owe it to your people to challenge them to be the best in what they’re doing and to give them a sense of pride, being, success and achievement towards the things they believe in. Nobody wants to flounder. Nobody wants to be left somewhere where 10 years later, they look back and say, “I’m not sure. What did I do? I didn’t make a difference, and I don’t feel like I learned a lot. Nobody ever challenged me.”

Find that place within a very loving, not for profit environment or find that place where you’re calling people to whatever God has gifted them with—talent, virtues, experiences—and help them plug those in so they have full meaning to them.

If I have a particular vision, I know how to get there, and other people want to come along, that feels like a full invitation for leadership. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet I found my voice strongest when something is wrong and unfair in areas of justice. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Owning the Vision

I think it’s always good to be patient, sit back, spend time with people, and bring them to your vision that’s driving your passion. Take the time to communicate it, let them have the drive and then move forward with them.

It’s so important to not put yourself in a relational position with others while you’re heading on a common mission together, or whatever that might be. I think it’s very important to create a separation, in a sense that it’s your vision. You are the owner, and they support, or they are the laborers in this vision. 

I once heard a great talk on an owner mentality versus a hireling mentality. If you want to establish a group of hirelings, they have a mercenary mindset. So, they’ll do what you ask them to do.

It’s better to build owners. You could give them things to own and really allow ownership mentality and energy to come alive in them. Then bring that ownership in their hearts, all into a common mission. With that, you’re in a much better place.

You have to change the way you think about everything. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou owe it to your people to challenge them to be the best in what they're doing. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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Choose to See the Light in Others.

Light in others

I had an interesting relationship with my grandmother. On one hand, she worked hard to keep me hidden from her friends in her Orthodox Jewish community given my brown skin. On the other hand, she was my biggest advocate, always pushing me to go to law school and be a strong and confident person. I was never allowed to go to family gatherings, but she and I enjoyed visiting the kosher deli when she visited me in Colorado. No photos of me lined the walls of her home, but mine were the only ones to be seen in her bedroom after her death. No matter her shortcomings, I could always see the light in her.

My best friend in college would always ask me how I could love my mother’s side of the family. Not surprisingly, she never understood my very complicated relationship with them. How could I expect her to? Her experience was different than mine. Her frame was not filled with as much rejection, feelings of being unworthy and a deep desire to belong.

After a lifetime of living inside that complexity, I found myself in a gifted position; I could see people as multi-dimensional and forgive their imperfections in a way that others could not. Thankfully, I had this way of seeing the smallest of positive changes even in the most broken people. I had a deep belief that people could be good, wanted to be better, needed to fight harder to get there, but they needed help.

After introspection, I think this belief is what made me a caring manager, makes me an empathetic coach, and helps me meet my clients where they are when partnering with them for cultural change. I can’t help myself in seeing the light in others!

This frame, or way of walking through the world, is not always easy, because people often disappoint. I know I disappoint as well. Sometimes, I am more disappointed in their disappointment in themselves. I hope so much for their fruitful growth. I think that I see my hope as an elixir to uplift others. It’s worked before. Maybe, it can work next time too?

This might all sound like a naïve way to live, but it is my way. I could have chosen to be an unforgiving pessimist who mistrusted everyone and fell victim to my circumstances. I chose a different path. As such, today and every day, I choose to see the light in everyone who comes my way. I watch for it! I don’t ignore the darkness, but I don’t rest in it, and I intentionally switch my lens. By doing so, I find the most fascinating truths in the most unlikely places. It also allows me to truly be a catalyst for deep transformation.

I hope the same for you as well.

With fondness, I still hear my grandmother’s voice calling me, “Hedda Hoppa”, which was just a loving nickname she would call me. In my heart, I will never forget her telling me to, “Keep your chin up and never let’em see you sweat!”.  Yes, I choose to focus on those memories.

I choose to see the light.

122: Leaders with Heart That We All Get Better One Step at a Time

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Matt Sweetwood, CEO of LUXnow, on his leadership style, his strong drive to lead, and where it comes from. He also shares how he treats his employees like family, and his very profound story of adversity and rebirth.

Key takeaways:

  • When things go wrong in life and business, focus on fixing one thing at a time while looking forward.
  • Sometimes when we are easy on team members whose performance is short, we enable them to fail. Then, that failure becomes our own.
  • Set the bar high, live it and then raise it once your team members meet the bar.
  • Regarding challenges, this too shall pass if you make it pass.
  • Succeed one step at a time.
Hope you don’t miss this episode. Listen and learn!

Matt Sweetwood is the CEO of LUXnow – the marketplace for luxury autos, homes and yachts. 

He is an internationally known professional speaker, author and life coach. With over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, Matt has been credited with the reinvention of the modern camera store. However, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. 

He is a frequent TV and publication contributor and has a #1 best-selling book: “Leader of the Pack: How a single dad of five led his kids, his business and himself from disaster to success.”

Success, A Habit

When success is a habit, you’re just driven to make sure to end the day more successful than before. Finding success is what makes me complete as a human being. If I fail at something, I really take a deep look at it and try to overcome. If there’s something in your life that you want badly enough, you’re going to make it happen.

I want to be successful. I don’t want to be a failure in front of my kids. When I retire someday, I don’t want to be sitting there, figuring out how I’m going to pay the bills. Drive for success comes from within.

Being able to feel somebody and put yourself in their circumstance actually helps you lead them. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Tough Love

I always treat my staff like my family. I have written hundreds of articles, and some of the popular ones talked about how similar leadership in business is with parenting at home. In fact, one of my articles that was featured best of the day on LinkedIn was, “What’s the difference between great parenting and great leadership?” My conclusion, of course, is that they are the same.

I think sometimes I’m too easy on my staff. I am too humanistic with them. Sometimes, in a CEO position, you have to be a little more ruthless. Every time I say that to myself, the name Mike Bloomberg comes to mind. He had a reputation for being ruthless. He has a long standing reputation of throwing resigning people out of the window and never speaking with them. But he became a billionaire.

I’m not saying this that I want to be like them, but I just think it’s an interesting study on leadership—to find the balance between having your staff love you and hate you, and what’s the right mix to find the most success. It’s something that I deal with all the time.

I was the good guy. My door is always open. I deal with my staff on a personal basis. But I sometimes wonder whether I should have been a whole lot harder. Maybe I would have found more success or more balance, I don’t know.

If I want it badly enough, I'm going to win. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou cannot be successful unless you're in good shape. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Raise Your Level

Sometimes when you’re too easy on an employee you enable them to fail. I think being too easy on a poorly performing employee enables their failure. Then the failure becomes yours. 

You have an obligation as a leader to correct people obviously in a kind way, never in a demeaning way. If you don’t do that, then the failure is yours.

Your job as a leader is to never let your level, go to the level of your staff. You have to bring them to your level. The goal is, you bring everybody to your level. When they get to yours, raise your level then bring them up again. That’s how you build the biggest and best of enterprises.

Always keep pushing yourself to be better. Never allow your standards, your morals and your ideology in any way to be compromised. Your principles always have to stay in in charge. 

If you’re the leader, you’re leading the company. You’re responsible for failure or success. Make sure you don’t fail because you lowered your level. Simple as that.

Let us start fixing things one by one. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetJust keep going and enjoy it. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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121: Leaders with Heart Accept the Truth of Their Leadership

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Kristin Fox, VP of HR at Gyrodata about her leadership style and where her drive to lead comes from. She also shares on the ways she was not the the best version of herself and what strategies she used to show up better.

Key Takeaways:

  • Take time with your people and leave the boss back at the office.
  • Try to establish a deeper connection especially now during a crisis.
  • Help your people through the struggle and model it.
  • Find cheerleaders who believe in you and will help you through rough patches.
  • Value the differences in those around you to help you see things differently.
Have an insightful week by listening to this gem of an episode!

Kristin Fox is a human resources leader passionate about putting the “human” back into HR. She has worked in the HR field for 20 years, currently serving as Vice President of HR for Gyrodata Incorporated. Kristin obtained her Master’s Degree in HR from the University of Texas and is a certified Senior Professional in HR (SPHR).

When Kristin isn’t working, you will find her spending time with her husband, Roger, and six kids or hiding somewhere with a good book to avoid the six kids. 

Founded in 1980, Gyrodata is one of the world’s leading providers of technologies and differentiated services to the energy industry.  Gyrodata’s unique products and services portfolio enables its clients to maximize hydrocarbon recovery and optimize an asset’s lifecycle cost.  With approximately 1,000 employees operating in over 50 countries in virtually every energy market in the world, Gyrodata is uniquely positioned to provide services from a global platform with a focus on technology, service quality, people and clients. the leading supplier worldwide of precision wellbore survey services to the energy, mining, environmental and construction industries

Learning, Empowering

I’m still learning in my leadership journey, and I hope it never stops. I’ve learned so much in my 20-year career working in HR. I’ve made many mistakes and errors along the path that created the leader I am hopefully trying to be today. I’m still trying to observe more, and get better in time. 

My goal is to focus on empowering others, whether that be from example or just lessons learned. I try to value using my influence in areas where I can showcase empathy or stewardship by actions. I make sure that I support them in their endeavors.

You're only as good as your team. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Inner Compass

I hope my people feel supported. I love to challenge them. I love to see how far they’re willing to challenge themselves and how far they can go. I really get the value of working with them as a team, and not have the boss title all of the time. I’m there to support.

When I was 15, my father unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack. He was only 48. I remember watching my mom trying to pick up the pieces, despite dealing with her own grief and watching a confused angry teenager. I realized years later that we probably would not have made it had she not had her own career separate from my father.

I watched my mother’s determination. Her independence just set an example for me to make sure that I always strive for that excellent stride in life. 

I think as a leader it’s those defining moments that become your inner compass to remind you of where you came from and what you’ve endured. I’ve had those reminders when life gets tough. It’s the core of how I want to be as a person and as a leader.

It's vital for leaders today to get feedback and really try not to work independently. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI am not going to be an expert in everything, even though I want to be. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Embracing Failures

I have failed so many times and have taken wrong turns. I had to eat many pieces of humble pie in my past than I’d like to admit. But, I’ve also learned how to embrace it. 

Embracing your failures is like hugging a cactus. It hurts. But to learn very quickly, I’ve had to hug a lot of cactuses. It’s not fun, but the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you can move on.

I am very fortunate to have a couple of trustworthy and valued peers, who have seen me at my worst and at my best. I know that they’re going to be truthful and supportive. I just call them, and say, “Look what happened. Look what I did. I’m so embarrassed.” It was as if the die was already cast.

I just shut my mouth and listen to what my peers had to say. Did I agree with all of their advice and opinions? No, but the truth doesn’t really care about our opinions, whether it hurts or not.

Find supporters and assured leaders because we need them now more than ever. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetSelf awareness is so important. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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Transformation: It Starts With You!

transformation

Through the COVID-19 crisis and the racial unrest, there are two main ways of thinking: Let’s hunker down and wrap our arms around the status quo, or let’s jump in and go for extreme amounts of transformation. The latter thinking can debilitate some and make them retreat into the first way to thinking very quickly.

I want to suggest a third way of thinking about our current circumstances, and do not be fooled into thinking that the issues we are facing are someone else’s issues to solve, we are all in this.

Transformation is defined as, “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance..”

What if we chose to transform just ourselves? What if we started today to think differently about our circumstances? What if we could pinpoint the one thing, or a series of things we could individually do to make us, our workplaces, our world, a better place? Why wait for tomorrow, or next year to start that journey?

I have heard many, who are not people of color, echo words of fear, doubt, helplessness, and show signs of being stuck. If you are reading this and feel stuck, either because of the circumstances around COVID-19 or those around the racial divide, commit to getting unstuck. Do one new thing today to learn more. Do one new thing to show empathy for a fellow human. Do one new thing today to change your thinking, which will positively impact how you behave.

Transformation starts from within you. It starts from within each one of us. Sure. We can try to change systems and process and that will help. First, though, we must commit to a change in us. Today is the day! Don’t wait for the light to turn green. You are in control of how you show up and whether your transformation will touch the lives of those around you. Give it a try!

Transformation

Just a downloadable infographic to help you think about culture transformation once you have conquered the idea of individual transformation and the role you play in organizational success.

 

120: Leaders with Heart Don’t Seek Perfection in Themselves

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Stephen Christopher about his leadership style and where his drive to lead come from. He also shares about the time when he allowed himself to hold onto an employee who was not open to change, what he did to come out of that circumstance, and what he does now to stop himself for doing that. 

Key takeaways:

  • Set aside time to be with people who just need to talk.
  • Look for greatness in people, but they have to want to improve.
  • Be a student of learning.
  • All your people to be their greatest selves.
Jumpstart your week by listening to this wonderful episode. Enjoy!

Stephen Christopher is the founder of a multi million marketing agency, Wit Digital, that serves home service companies. With a huge passion in intuitive guiding and coaching, He has been able to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Stephen helps home service companies grow their business through proper digital marketing strategies customized based on their objectives. He also inspires leaders to learn that they’re in control of their lives and how to harness the power of creation to choose the life they desire to live. 

Stephen also helps business owners exit the day to day of their business while still owning the company, as well as inspiring them to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Student of Leadership

I’ve started a couple companies over the last 15 years and I’ve been running teams really ever since then. I’ve been leading groups of people for well over a decade, but at the same time, I feel like I’m still young, every single day. 

I’m still learning because there’s always something new that comes up—like new situations where I can apply everything I have learned in the past but also learn something new from it. I guess, I’m just a student of leadership.

Be honest with your teams. They don't expect you to be perfect in every single moment. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building Up

I don’t believe that I’ll ever be a graduated professional. It’s a constantly evolving learning experience, especially based on how the world outside changes. 

We’re so far different than we were 10 years ago in the world. As those things continue to evolve and change, there’s never one answer that’s going to fit. And, there’s no finish line.

If somebody comes with a problem or an issue, or maybe they’re feeling great, oftentimes what they say the problem is, is really not necessarily the issue nor the root of it. 

That’s why I’m always trying to figure out the more of the root, so we can address something deeper and apply them in a lot more areas. It takes a while to build up that level of trust to where your team will actually tell you the truth. It can take years. But it’s well worth it.

Be gentle on yourself. Take into consideration lessons we can learn from the things we did and how we can do better next time. But that’s it. It’s purely factual information. There’s no need to tie heavy emotions to it because that just drains our energy. 

Also, it makes us a much less effective leader. Nobody wants to go to work or be led by who is down and not being the best version of themselves that they can.

We need every leader to get a little bit better every single day to make the world a better place. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThere's nothing you can change about where you are today because the past has already been written. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The First Piece

When talking about why, mine is to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. Leadership is like “I know that you can. I know you are capable more than you even are aware, and I’m going to offer you the ability to start to tease that out a little bit.”

The most exciting thing for me is having somebody come to us. You hear some leaders say like, “Oh, if only they would try a little harder. If only. How can I get them to work a little harder.”

People making those statements believe that if their people would work a little harder, they would give them a little bit more. But it’s the opposite.

You must give them more, then they will create the things that you’re looking for—better client relationships better output, more creativity and more innovation. You’ve got to put the first piece.

We're all in this human experience. None of us have all of the answers. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe're just so hard on ourselves, but it doesn't do us any good. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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What We Do Not Understand Can Hurt Us.

understand

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Mari Curie

 

Given the recent tragedy surrounding George Floyd’s death, I realize more than ever that what we do not understand can hurt us. This past week, I was blessed to speak with many I consider allies. Why? They are my white colleagues who feel the pain and plight of African Americans, and they are inspired to understand our lens more deeply and to take deliberate action to use their influence to promote change.

The most impressive thing about these allies is that they want to fall on the sword for a battle they did not start. Nonetheless, they realize we all have a role to play and they are not cowering.

The work that I do around uncovering and using the voices of employees is a way for me to help organizational leaders understand what their people need from them to have better more magnetic experiences at work. It is my seeking to understand, the leaders’ willingness to allow this work and the employees’ openness to share their truths that make my venture successful.

If we are to learn from and change from George Floyd’s death, we must seek to understand each view, because what we do not understand can hurt us. Not knowing means we fear it.

Then, we must all be seekers of the truth and proclaimers of love, compassion, and unity. We must stand in one another’s shoes and embrace the allies among us. Despite it all, we must be courageous in this battle to rid the world of narrow-minded, fear-filled thinking and replace it with an openness to listen to understand.

Some time back, my daughter chose to deliver a Malcolm X speech to a class who were predominantly white. Before choosing that speech, she did not know much of his life. While learning more, she sought to understand his struggle and the stories he shared of teachers who told him he would amount to nothing. She was attracted to his struggle, because she struggled with learning delays, and was often surrounded by people who implied she could not do certain things.

She felt his pain, and she felt compelled to share his story. Her courage while reciting his speech was palpable to her classmates and teacher. Her teacher commented about how well she did, but as she recalled, he was obviously uncomfortable and defensive given some of Malcom X’s rhetoric. No matter, after pondering her talk for days, he decided that they would study more about black history the following semester. In the end, my daughter felt validated.

We must all set our intent to listen more actively to what others are saying. We must all set our hearts to feel more of what others are feeling. Therefore, let us all seek to understand  countering views and embrace the enlightening differences. Set out to include voices you might not ever think to invite into an ever-expanding conversation. Broach topics that make you uncomfortable for the sake of learning.

My daughter’s courage brought on change, and it all started by her desire to understand more about a man who would be an unlikely story for her to tell. What we do not understand can hurt us, and what we seek to understand and share with others can set us free!

Transformation

This is a downloadable infographic that you can use as inspiration to help change your thinking to a more forward-thinking view. 

This is just a small gift to you as you join me on the journey to transformation.