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.

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.

Refuse to Meet Hate at the Door.

It is my turn to speak out against the recent death of George Floyd and many other innocent black men, but one thing you must know first is that I refuse to meet hate at the door. 

For those who know me, you know that I already have a family background riddled with narrow-minded thinking. For those who don’t know me, take a peek at this TEDx talk to learn a little more. 

The officer who killed George Floyd deserves to pay the price for taking his life. What he did was against the law and against morality. He showed a total disregard for human life. Justice must be served.

What is frustrating me now is how a few protesters  are ruining everything for the bunch. I went to college for political science and then graduated from law school.  I believe in the political process. I vote in elections, and I believe in the right for peaceful protest.

I have four children, three of whom are future black men. Frankly, I am afraid for them. For years now, my husband and I coach them on the “right” way to dress, speak, walk,  and how to interact with law enforcement. 

I am not naive. I was born into a family that hid me from their friends, because I am black.  Some might think that I should be angry for that. Because I believe in grace and forgiveness, I was able to thrive past that truth.

I am more angry about what continues to happen to black men, going on runs, walking down the street, resting in their homes. 

Through it all, though, I refuse to meet hate at the door. 

My mom taught me to never use the word, “hate” and, instead, use “dislike”, because hate is a very strong word. and it elicits negative thoughts and emotions that can cloud our judgement.  She also told me that we should always take the higher ground, never stoop to someone else’s level and to judge people by the content of their character. These teachings walk with me everyday.

What teachings are walking with you? What teachings were walking with the officer responsible for George Floyd’s death?

George’s tragic death is a reminder for us all of how much we disregard human life and dignity, how we suffer from a lack of empathy for our fellow humans, and how much people hold negative perceptions of people with brown skin. 

I know that last one all too well, but no matter what: I refuse to meet hate at the door.

I love my enemies and those who look down on me. Why? Because I know that much of how we show up is the filter we brought from our past. Ignorance is the fuel for racism and hatred. I know better. I will not let hate win the day!

What that officer did to George Floyd is a tragedy. It’s a scary reality for black men and their families. This reality is in our schools, our workplaces and in our government.

I learned long ago that we are all fallible. We are all imperfect, but we must seek justice for the wronged and steer clear of hatred.

Let’s continue with peaceful protest. Let’s show up to the polls to vote in the primary and general elections. Let’s run for public offices. Let’s teach in our schools. Let’s make sure that we raise our children to respect human life, to believe in justice and to forgive more than we remain angry.

I refuse to meet hatred at the door, because we have a choice to step outside of anger and into a place of prayer, peace and unity. We choose how we show up.

I am not a black man, but I am raising three future black men. I pray that when they grow up, they refuse to meet hate at the door.

be best human

If you would like to stay in control of your mindset during this crazy time, Here is a small gift from me that can boost your mood and keep you focused on what is important.  Just click this link to download it.

How to Use a Crisis to Build Resilience.

Build Resilience

This title might seem off given our current state-of-affairs with COVID-19, but I promise you that we can use this “crisis” to build resilience in ourselves and in those we lead.

Resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

We have been hearing a lot about resilience lately. Many people want to be known as resilient, but are they willing to put in the work? You might be asking yourself, “What does she mean by ‘putting in the work?’”

I liken becoming more resilient with building more muscle. We cannot tone and strengthen our arms without some sort of strength training. Building muscle basically tears it before it grows. It is some really hard work, and if done right, we sweat a lot and it hurts like hell.

This is how building resilience works. The more adversity we face and challenges we overcome, the more our resilience muscle grows. We should see any obstacle, challenge, crisis, or adversity as an opportunity to build that muscle.

Below are a few ways to use our current circumstances to help build resilience muscle:

1. Don’t Run Away

Our natural inclination is to run away from things that frighten us or challenge the status quo. This is like giving up in the middle of a workout or marathon. We will not get to the end or obtain the results we want unless we finish and hit the lofty goal head-on.

I don’t mean that we shouldn’t take precautions to protect ourselves. Instead, do that, and continue to show up and stand firm as a best-selves that day. This act alone helps you build resilience.

2. See the Bright Side

In my TEDx talk, I talk about “reframing.” Reframing is to “frame or express (words or a concept or plan) differently.” It is not a complicated process, but not always easy to do. Basically, we take our current situation along with all the irrational thoughts tied to it and then we make a choice to see it differently and replace those thoughts with more rational ones.

When we reframe, we tend to see the brighter side of almost any situation. If we are to survive any challenge, crisis or adversity, reframing is the biggest tool in our arsenal.

3. Learn from It

The biggest gift of a crisis is the learning that can come from it. If we let this time come and go and he have not been changed, or we have not learned any new behaviors, then we can absolutely call it a crisis.

We build our resilience muscle when we stand in our circumstances, take a breath and learn to be better.

4. Help Someone Else

Recently, on a Linkedin Live, I encountered a gentleman who had lost his wife just a week before him joining my live show. He asked great questions, he interacted with me and others and he taught me a lesson. In his pain and loss, he chose to focus on giving back to others.

I thanked him for his courage and for being a productive member of the viewing audience. I counseled him to take time to grieve, and he just said, “I will do that once I help others first.” Wow! This was a profound learning for me. We build resilience muscle by helping others first.

5. Tell Your Story

There is great healing when we tell our stories. As one of my best friends, Sarah Elkins says, “Your Stories Don’t Define You. How You Tell Them Will.” This is an important point. Many can benefit when you tell your story, and be sure you know which story you want to tell and how you want to tell it.

Our stories can be a powerful force that propel us forward during difficult times, or they can make us fall victim to our past. Tell that more fruitful story to build your resilience muscle and be ready for the next challenge.

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Thank you for reading this article. If you have found it uplifting, please do share it. If you or your organization is looking for a speaker, on-site or virtual, or a workshop facilitator, reach out to me.

Five Insightful Ways to Become an Intentional Leader.

This weekend, I attended Mary Poppins, the musical, as my daughter played a role in the ensemble. I have seen this musical many times, but there is something compelling about seeing it in real life. It authentically explores the concept of becoming an intentional leader.

At one point, the young lady playing, Mary Poppins, sings
the song, Anything Can
Happen
. To complete the sentence, it is, “Anything can happen if you
let it.” I love this phrase, and I think it most important in the context of
leadership.

I am working on launching a new website that has my name as
URL. It’s is not easy to land on what the messages on the front page on the
website should be to speak to those who will search and land on it. As I
thought long and hard about what my work and messages stand for, I realized
that it does and always will boil down to intentional leadership.

Whether I am talking about caring leaders, resilient
leaders, tenacious leaders, leaders who care for themselves, those without a
manager title becoming aware and making changes to how they treat their
coworkers, it boils down to being intentional and purposeful about it. It is
not easy, but it is worth it.

I realized in this new website process that what I stand for is intentional leadership. What do I mean by this? Leaders who are intentional don’t wait for things to happen. They set out to make them happen. Moreover, they don’t focus on accidental outcomes, but curate environments and make decisions that produce outcomes they want. Interestingly enough, I am consistently advocating for this type of leadership.

Mary Poppins’ reference in the song above really pinpoints
the power of choice. I think that this is the crux of great leadership, making
better choices.

Below I have outlined five insightful ways to become a more
intentional leader and make Mary Poppins proud:

Set Your Mind Right

The most important part of the process of becoming an intentional leader is to set your mindset up to push excuses away. Often, when we don’t show up as the best versions of ourselves, we tend to give ourselves too much grace or leeway to maintain our behaviors. Said another way, we don’t have our “eye on the prize” for the end result of showing up more intentionally.

Think about it, when we don’t think through an interaction
with one of our team members, it might feel like the interaction just happened
to us. This might make us feel like we have no control.

I promise you that we can control more than we think. Unless we are in a military camp or other place where someone is controlling our thoughts, we can turn our thoughts around. Mary Poppins refers to “moving mountains” and “making your dreams stretch like elastic”. This all starts in the mind, and no one can take this away from us.

If you focus on setting your mind right first, the road to
intentional leadership will illuminate.

Write a Plan for Change

There is nothing that speaks more to intentionality than
writing down a plan for how you intend to make changes and achieve goals. This
might be in the form of writing daily to-do lists, and putting together a
quarterly personal improvement plan. Either way, you are not leaving your
leadership effectiveness to chance. Moreover, you refuse to let how you treat
those you lead be accidental.

Take the time to jot down some ideas and hold yourself
accountable to executing on them. Writing a plan for change is critical to
achieving it.

Evaluate Yourself Daily

Despite your desire to be more intentional in how you show
up as a leader, like any change, we must evaluate whether it is happening and whether
it is long-lasting. You think you set your mindset right and put the proper
plan in place. Now, how well are you executing on the change you wish to see in
you?

This is critical. In my faith, I make it a habit to examine
myself daily to measure my behaviors and my outcomes against my vision for
myself and my desire to impact those around me. Some days, I can smile at all I
have done to move toward that better leader. Other days, I realize I may have fallen
short.

I am not looking at perfection, but I am expecting continuous
improvement. I am on a journey to intentionality every day, never really
reaching a destination.

Make it your business to evaluate yourself daily. Don’t
leave your leadership identity to chance. Be intentional about growing you as a
leader.

Ask for Feedback

If you know me, you know that I live and breathe by the voices of others. I don’t mean that my identity is tied up completely in what others say about me and my behavior. To the contrary, I simply seek out feedback from those I lead, colleagues, customers and friends. Additionally, I use that feedback as a barometer to how I am fulfilling my personal vision for myself. This is the act of an intentional leader.

At work, this might be 360 feedback, or bi-directional
performance reviews, or just informal coffees with friends and colleagues.

No matter how good we are, we cannot see everything. I have
made some minor tweaks to the ways I show up based upon what a trusted few have
revealed to me.

Ask for feedback. Don’t worry, it only hurts a little.

Find an Accountability Partner

Being a leader of people can be lonely. Moreover, leaders might
not trust colleagues at their same level in the organization with deep authentic
conversation. When I am coaching my clients, I often tell them to look for an
accountability partner. Yes, they have me, and that can be valuable.
Nonetheless, finding someone who you can trust at work is key to executing on
intentional changes.

For example, if you know that you need help with having more
connected relationships inside of meetings, find someone you trust who is
usually in those meetings with you. Let them know that you are trying to make
changes that help you connect with your coworkers in a more connected way.
Then, they will no what to look out for and suggest to you after the meetings
so that you can be more intentional about making that change.

Leaders do not have to do it alone. In fact, when we do, we
are less effective and less magnetic.

In conclusion, if you want to be more emotionally intelligent, more present, more focused, more connected, you have to first be an intentional leader. When you focus on setting your mind right, writing a plan, evaluating yourself, seeking feedback from others and selecting an accountability partner, you will notice your overall leadership effectiveness soar! Becoming an Intentional leader is choice. Let’s make better choices together.

Mary Poppins would be proud of you for even trying!

Tears and warmth on Memorial Day.

Today is Memorial Day, and I get to sit at my kitchen counter drinking lovely coffee and breathing in the air and blue skies of Colorado. Yes! I GET to do those things. Everyday, I look into my children’s eyes and hug them and smell them, I feel like I have been given a gift. I know that that gift was not free. I know that the price for this gift is paid by others. The men and women who died for our country deserved to be remembered everyday and in every way. My husband and I talk to our children about the “why” for this day. We do not want them to take this day for granted, as just another day off from school.

My oldest son teaches me that service is not compulsory, but it comes from the heart. We are all called to serve others in our own way. He is only 14, and yet, I have only known him as someone who sacrifices himself for the good of his family and friends. Honestly, since he was about 2 years old, I could see how he would give things up for his older sister. At first, it was cute. Then, I started to worry that he may hold a grudge for sacrificing so much. Twelve years later, I know now that his self-sacrifice fills him up. His calling fulfills him.

Over the years, I would have these nightmares that he would choose to enlist and very immediately jump on a grenade for his friends in battle. I know him to be that type of person. Occasionally, I have those uneasy feelings, but then I see the smile on his face whenever he is helping, or being with, or sacrificing something for someone else. I know that it is just who he is to give like that. Not all of us are wired with that type of calling. I respect those who answer that calling for our sake.

Leaders whom have as their North Star the desire to serve those around them, inspire and rally like nothing else. Think about it! Would you rather go into battle with someone who requires you to follow them because of title only, or would you rather march along someone who shows you their willingness to put themselves on the line first, before inspiring you to do the same?

Today, I want to honor all those men and women who walked into danger to give me the life I live today. I honor your memory and your sacrifice. I know how much it meant to you to stand for us. You allowed me to bear wonderful children. Because I am free, I was blessed to have them. They help me to see your sacrifice through their leadership.

Thank you!

_______________________________

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please to share it with those who might benefit from its message. If you have served this country or lost someone through their service, I salute you!

The future of work will still need caring leaders.

This past week, I was honored to take part in Harvard Business Review Brasil, Brasil Week in Sao Paulo. I was super excited to share my insights on the key driver for employee loyalty with a large crowd of engaged leaders.

I must be honest. I was a little nervous; partly, because I hoped my message would be understood given the use of translators, and partly, because I wasn’t sure if my message would be well-received across the globe. Happily, I report neither were a problem.

The main message was that employee experience and retention are powered by emotions and leaders get to choose which emotions they leave their people feeling.

We often hear about the future of work. We rarely here that emotions will still be the key driver for how we work and whether we will give and receive more from the work that we do. The future of work makes us think of things like the impact artificial intelligence or the gig economy will have on our workplace. The underlying sentiment fosters a certain amount of uncertainty and fear about the future.

While I am not naïve to think that things will always be the same, the one thing that I am most certain of is that the future of work will still need caring leaders. Whether we include a few robots in the call center, or not, the future will never exclude the need for people to connect with people. People will always need to find meaning in their work, and managers will always be the facilitator of finding that meaning.

As I stepped onto the stage in Brasil, I hoped that no matter our language differences, they would feel the sincerity and depth of my message. I made sure to lock eyes with an many of them as possible and slow down my pace. I could tell that they were deeply connected to what I was saying. They seemed hungry to learn and to dialogue about what was necessary to retain their best people. I think that they were relieved to find out that much of what bonds their people to them starts and stops with them. What they realized is that they control the emotions they leave their team members feeling. They could let go of blaming others and feel released from waiting to ask permission to be the caring leaders they need to be.

Through many of their questions, I realized that these amazing managers, supervisors, and executive leaders felt shackled by their organizational limitations. I was there to unlock those shackles and help them to see the crucial power they possessed as managers of people. It was no longer about others and more about them as individuals. I talked to them about personal responsibility, about personal power, about what they, as leaders of people, can do to create deeper bonds. They left their excuses at the door. They left enlightened.

The future of work is inevitable. Change is coming. The one constant is that our workplaces will always need caring managers who put their people first, by showing them sincere appreciation, growing their careers and leveraging their talents, sticking by them in tough situations, creating deep connection in and for them and listening to understand.

Will you be one of the caring managers of the future?

If you enjoyed this post, please do share it with those who might benefit.

How important is your dash?

leadership legacy

A while ago, my family and I visited my aunts and cousins in Ohio. It was the first time that both sides met one another. My kids had a blast getting to know people they had only heard about in stories.

While we were in Ohio, we decided to do a college tour for my daughter. During our tour, we were blessed to attend services at the on-campus chapel. The priest shared the following poem during his homily:

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

 By Linda Ellis, Copyright © Inspire Kindness, 1996, thedashpoem.com

This wonderfully written piece got me to thinking about “the dash” that will be on my tombstone.  I often think of the legacy I will leave my children and what they and others might say about me during my eulogy.

I am not perfect.

I should be less quick to anger, spend less time on work and more focused time with family.

I write a lot about leadership, but I am not always successful in leading myself. I work harder than most at treating others with respect and showing them their own importance.

I am mostly happy with the person I am, but as a leader in my home, in my community and in my business, I will be more thoughtful about the strength of the dash that will be on my tombstone. How about you?

Lead your mind before you lead others.

 

self-leadership

The backstory

I recently had the occasion to present to two different groups on the concept of self-leadership. I didn’t choose this topic. The topic chose me. One client and then the next requested I speak and teach about this. Then, I realized I was called to evangelize this concept by a higher authority.

First, I presented my personal story of overcoming adversity and choosing to change my mindset. Then, I turned the focus on them.

The exercise I chose was one where the participants had to discuss the barriers to their succeeding the way they want in the work that they do. Then, I walked them through a traditional mindset shift exercise requiring that they think of rational solutions to the barriers they posed. Finally, the groups broke up into smaller groups and began to dream a little about what their perfect scenario would look like. In this exercise, they needed to put their perceived barriers aside, and draw a visual picture of what the perfect workplace would look like considering both internal and external factors. This was a fascinating exercise!

The most fascinating part of the exercise was to see their body language change from an apprehensive, arms-crossed posture to one that shouted receptivity to thinking differently. I was in awe by how everyone seemed to jump on board and “play” with me and their co-workers with these unexpected exercises.

Just call me a development geek, but I love to see the smallest of growth in individuals and organizations. I get a big rush to see lightbulbs go off and hear from the mouths of those deep in these exercises about their dream lives and workplaces! These two examples were no exception.

As I sat back to see who they chose to lead the sub-group presentations and see how passionate they were about what they hoped for in the place at which they spend over 40-hours per week, I realized how simple, yet difficult, it can be to change our mindsets.

I lived a childhood filled with racism and addiction within my own family. I made pivotal decisions to keep my positive, growth-focused mindset in-tact. I know that it is not easy to do, but this skill is especially important if we are to lead others. I know this, because I lived it.

 

The Moral

Because of my past, leading others was inevitable for me. In my Leadership with Heart podcast, I consistently ask my guests why they are driven to lead. Often, they refer to a parent or a previous boss. In every story they recall for me, they point to the fact that those people had a certain mindset. One that impressed them so much that they wanted to emulate it. The leaders in their lives had a positive impact.

Each time I hear their stories, I am energized to do the same for my children. I want them to want to lead themselves first. What I realize is that they have a greater chance at success in self-leadership if I am, in fact, steadfast in leading me. They will and do emulate me. As a leader in my home, I get to chose which mindset I impart upon them.

Anyone seeking to lead others, must first lead themselves by choosing their mindset and then sticking to it. There is no more effective way to grow into leadership than to take the time to lead our own emotions, behaviors and mindset. By taking this time, we increase our effectiveness and touch more lives along the way. That’s what we all want, right?

 

 

Forget your “swim lane.” Run for your potential instead!

 

This last week, I had the privilege of speaking to the law enforcement officers of the Cal State Fullerton Police Department. A few months back, the chief of police was referred to me by a close friend. He had summarized his need for a speaker who could talk about the concepts of self-leadership and accountability, as his department was undergoing change due to his new leadership. After my friend heard his story, she thought I might be a better fit.

I spoke with the chief a couple times before I was to speak to his department, but as I got closer to the event, I made a slight tweak to the content of my talk. Months before, I had pondered whether I should add a talk on overcoming adversity and maintaining a positive mindset to my speaking lineup. I grappled with doing so because I am a big believer that a strong brand-value proposition starts with focused messaging. I didn’t want to confuse people. “Stay in your swim lane,” if you know what I mean.

Then, as I sat down to outline my talk and reviewed my conversation notes once again, it was glaringly clear that I needed to focus on the idea that a positive mindset produces more positive behaviors and better results. I didn’t obtain a degree or any type of certificate to come to this conclusion.

I had lived this, and it’s the best education one can receive. I felt confident that this was the more relevant message. After speaking with the chief, he agreed.

Within a few days, a longtime client of mine reached out and asked whether I could change a talk I was giving to her management team on employee loyalty to one focusing on overcoming adversity. I could not believe it! I am a person of faith. This was more than just a coincidence. I was called to move in this direction.

Does that mean that I need to walk away from my current area of focus?

Absolutely not.

That is what I struggled to understand. Here is the thing: We are complex creatures. Our interests expand past one interest point or focus area or topic. An engineer can be a musician. A doctor can be a pilot. A model can be an astute business person. We are only limited by what we tell ourselves.

While brand focus is important, equally important is that we not leave any of our talents or our stories on the table for fear of breaking some sort of an unwritten rule.

I create my own life. I am only limited by me. My path will not always be clear, but I will be open to discovering all the nuances of who I was meant to be. I will help people and organizations do the same.

As I stood in front of a crowded room of police officers to deliver my speech for the first time, I was not nervous. I felt confident that this was the message I was meant to deliver on this day and at this exact time. I know that I will deliver it to another group in a few days, and I am jumping out of myself with excitement that this message will change the lives of those who hear it.

My story, the foundation of this speech, unfolded for a reason. This was not an accident. I am humbled that others can learn from it.

When others tell you to stay in your swim lane. I would recommend that you be open to widening it.