Positive Discontent

Positive and discontent. The words don’t seem to go together. For we know, all too well, those times of discontent. When we are out of sorts and at times grumpy. Where things are just not right. When our worlds are not awful but neither are they awesome.

So to describe those times of discontent with an adjective of “positive” jolts us. Far better pairings might use the words dark or disconcerting or uncomfortable. But positive? How can that be?

Learn more about how discontent can be positive and create innovation by reading the rest of this article.

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Pre-enactment: A Way to Create the Future You Want

I am a big advocate of working forward rather than backward. I’ve transformed my life into one of meaning, fulfillment, and joy by using several methods of envisioning what I wanted to create in my life.

As such, I’ve journaled, created vision boards, set HEART goals, and created accountability systems to ensure that I acted unfailingly on those dreams. And, it’s worked.

Yet, as powerful as those techniques are, none are nearly as amazing as a way of envisioning (and then creating) a better future than one I learned from Joanna Taft, director of the Harrison Center for the Arts and visionary community leader.

Her question is this. Rather than reenact, why not pre-enact?

Learn more about pre-enacting by reading the full post.

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Reframing – “Fix Your Face”

Two women leaders recently shared a wonderful story to me that struck at a basic truth. Here is how the story unfolded.

Michelle was commanded (not asked, but told) to participate in a developmental program that required her to be out of her regular work for a day and a half. Her coworker, Kenya, also was asked to participate in the same program; albeit in a more inviting way.

Michelle’s first response was negative. She was angry. She was frustrated. She vented to Kenya about how annoying, unjust and terrible this whole thing was. Kenya’s first response was different. She was curious. What was this program about? How might it help her?

So when Michelle’s email came to Kenya, with all the disbelief and complaining and frustration, Kenya presented Michelle with very sage advice in three short words: Fix Your Face.

Keep reading to learn more about the story of Michelle and Kenya, reframing a situation, and how to “fix your face”.

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Can Doing Nothing be an Act of Leadership?

Leading seems to us to be an action verb. Visionary. Problem solver. Manager. Fire fighter.

As leaders we can feel compelled to build, to fix, and to organize. Very seldom do we give ourselves the latitude to do nothing. We are busy. We are needed. Others rely on us.

Yet, I would propose there are times when, as leaders, we might do nothing.

Read more to learn a few examples.

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Have you ever felt stuck? Here’s my process for getting unstuck and moving forward.

There are times in life we get stuck. We dislike where we are. It might be in our career or in a relationship or in a specific geography. We might not like our current employer, boss or customers, yet we don’t see any other options.

I’ve been there – and I have had plenty of conversations with people who are stuck and want help getting unstuck. What I’ve noticed is that there is a consistent pattern that accompanies the “getting stuck” times both with me and with others.

The good news? You can learn how to break this pattern and move forward when you are feeling stuck.

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20 Free Ways You Can Invest in Yourself

In a recent post, I discussed the importance of investing in yourself. In this post, I’m sharing a great list of no-cost ways you can do that. No-cost means no funding required, no need to open your wallet and/or use your credit card.

Of course, there is a cost. Investing in yourself will require time. It will require effort. It will require that you value yourself enough to nurture your growth, and it might require you to take a risk and try something new!

Read my list of 20 free ways you can invest in yourself, and see which ones you could try this weekend!

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Invest in Yourself: 5 Things Every Professional Should Do to Develop Themselves

Expanding your knowledge, developing your skills, and broadening your network is a gift that keeps on giving. It improves your job performance, which leads to other good things like plum assignments, new opportunities, and career growth.

Yet in spite of a host of good reasons to invest in ourselves, we can lose sight of actually taking tangible actions.

Today, the stakes are higher. When the best jobs 15 years from now don’t even exist today, when the amount of technical information doubles every two years, when employers are hiring, more and more – for capability rather than competency – it is our duty to own our personal learning, growth and development with focus and intention.

Learn about how capability is now a critical employment criteria, and the five things every professional should do to develop themselves, starting today.

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Demystifying Strategic Planning Steps

It’s that time of the year. Perhaps not the “most wonderful time of the year”, but the time of the year that businesses and nonprofits alike go through the process of strategic planning and goal alignment. The notion is this: direction gets set at the top, then is cascaded down the organization through a goal alignment and setting process.

Today, I’m not going to quibble with the process. I’m going to attempt to demystify the language, as I observe much head scratching (and some of it’s my own) when asked to participate in the process. What is an objective? How does it differ from a goal? Should I have a mission? A vision? And when someone tells me I should be more strategic, what do they mean?

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The Basic Principles of Leadership

Long ago, in a factory in a mid-west town, a young woman was chosen to lead. The factory was filled with large and heavy equipment, hummed with activity both day and night and was filled with craftsmen skilled at their trade.

For weeks, this new leader went off to class where she learned how to have performance discussions, how to resolve problems, and how to find ways to improve situations.

Yet the biggest lesson, by far, was that there were some guiding principles to leading that she could apply, no matter the situation. In fact, they were called the basic principles, and each and every lesson was grounded in approaching all situations with them.

As you might guess, I was that young woman. I realize now, many years later, how ingrained these basic principles are in how I approach work, leadership, and the world.

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When 2 Minus 1 Equals 4: The Paradox of Giving and Receiving

Yesterday I went to yoga class, toting my brand new mat. It was soft and spongy. It was teal, one of my favorite colors. It was a gift from my son, Brad, which made me think of him throughout practice.

In a physical sense, Brad was out a few bucks as the giver, and I gained a material possession. He had less, in a physical sense, and I had more. He lost; I gained.

On a far more profound level, we are both richer. I am touched that he knew me well enough to pick a great gift. Every time I roll out this mat, I’ll be reminded of him, his sense of humor, and our mutual love. The mat becomes something more – an expression of something without shape or form, but profound.

I can’t speak for how Brad feels as the giver; yet reflecting on this simple interchange, I recalled the numerous times that I was much richer for the giving.

Learn more about the premise that giving enriches both the giver and the receiver, and how to reframe common business mindsets.

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