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How To Use Your Inner Compass

How To Use Your Inner Compass

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To make choices we usually need to evaluate the facts, but we must also respond to gut feelings that give us information. Together, these can make up our inner compass. But most of us at one time or another dismiss the gut feelings. We have all sorts of reasons for doing so. We’re scared, or we don’t really want to do the work required of us. (This happens a lot to storybook heroes at the beginning of a journey, right before they accept a challenge and go on a wonderful adventure). Maybe we aren’t willing to give up on a dream in which we’ve invested a lot of effort. We all know this feeling of self-dismissal, and it looks something like this: Inner Feeling: I’ve been tense all week. This feels…
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Leaning Into A Mood Can Improve Your Leadership

Leaning Into A Mood Can Improve Your Leadership

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What mood do leaders need to lean into to get the results we want? I've been thinking about this question lately, after a great family summer trip that involved several different tours—and tour guides. We were a group that ranged widely in age, from children to more elderly family members, so we weren't always easy to please. After a day’s activities, we visitors would talk about our tour leaders—the good, the bad, and the just okay. Who inspired us, and who left us cold? Like tour guides, leaders at work are challenged to inspire and create an environment of learning and growth among a group of people with differing styles and personalities. One thing that was clear about our preferred tour guides was that the mood we sensed from them really set the tone…
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Say Hello To Your Inner Critic

Say Hello To Your Inner Critic

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I work with many highly-talented, high-performing executives with proven track records of success. Inside, however, they don’t always feel secure. The inner critic is something most of us carry around. It’s that voice that nags you, saying you’re not good enough, you’re going to be judged, and you should probably just keep quiet right now. I am getting to know my inner critic pretty well. Just writing this post raises the feeling that people will think I'm being a know-it-all. Who am I to give advice, anyway? Sometimes it feels like my inner critic isn't just one voice, but a full-sized marching band. So I can relate to my clients, who have accomplished a lot, and yet hear the inner critic whenever they try something new. Sometimes the way we react to the…
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Four Ways Gratitude Can Help You Do Your Job

Four Ways Gratitude Can Help You Do Your Job

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Psychologists have recently paid more attention to the role of gratitude in improving physical and mental health. Gratitude is also a topic of interest in the workplace, as a way to motivate employees and build first-rate teams. While you can’t fix all your problems with positive thinking, research indicates that putting effort into feeling thankful—and, when appropriate, expressing gratitude to others--can be beneficial for health and relationships. 1. Being thankful is associated with a healthier heart and other health benefits. “We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers,” says the lead author of this study. 2. Thankfulness can help you and your colleagues cope with difficulty. There is scientific evidence that people who feel gratitude can enhance well-being in…
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3 Great Leadership Books For Summer Reading

3 Great Leadership Books For Summer Reading

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These three leadership reads offer great insights while also being brisk and entertaining—perfect for the beach or campsite. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott Executive and leadership coach Susan Scott asserts that relationships are built on having the right conversations. Through the stories, tools and worksheets in this book she outlines how to have the “fierce” conversations of her title. Wall Street Journal bestseller. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith tackles the interpersonal issues that even successful executives face, focusing on the top 20 bad habits that can undermine relationships in business and in families, with practical advice on how to…
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A Self-Knowledge Survey

A Self-Knowledge Survey

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When a leader receives executive coaching, they are also offered the rare opportunity to learn new information about how they come across to others. Coaching creates a safe place for gathering and sharing that information, as the coach can survey colleagues and pass along the anonymous results to the client. It's hard to mine for this kind of data on your own, because people are less likely to be as frank as they would be with a coach as intermediary. But in the search for self-knowledge, information about how you come across to others is gold. If you can tolerate some surprises, you might consider asking siblings, friends, and acquaintances to answer a few questions about how you appear to them. Sending them questions by email with a promise not to get angry…
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The Mantra of Bold Action

The Mantra of Bold Action

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For most people it takes urgency to lead them to take a leap. I believe it helps to orient yourself toward bold action, rather than waiting for a situation that requires it. When we stay in inaction, that is our narrative. Taking action, even if it's imperfect, will change your story. What would I do if I were bolder? If I could let go of some of my fears, how would I show up differently? See if you can turn the volume down on your inner critic long enough to take a bold step. It could be having an important conversation, or taking the first steps to launch a creative idea. A habit of action can help you create a new narrative for your career, for your business, for your life. Once you’ve stepped forward: Celebrate…
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How To Become a Leader of Self

How To Become a Leader of Self

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You are a leader of others, and a leader of your business. Most of all, you are a leader of yourself. In every conversation, in every relationship, we are engaged with ourselves as well as the other person. This is what makes self-knowledge so important. If you don't know your sources of power, your stumbling blocks, your habits and your feelings in the moment, your leadership is likely to be on shaky ground. One way to learn more about yourself at this moment is to slow down, and become attuned to what you are thinking and feeling right now. This is harder than it sounds. Search the web for breathing exercises, which can help in focusing the mind. Once you are breathing with some awareness, begin to pay attention to…
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What’s Your Emotional Temperature?

What’s Your Emotional Temperature?

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This green sea turtle, basking on a Hawaiian beach, is regulating her temperature. Marine reptiles like sea turtles cool off or warm up by changing their behavior. For warmth, they glide into a warm current of water, or lumber up the beach to bask in the sun. Helping leaders regulate their emotional temperatures is one of the jobs of executive coaching, and it starts by figuring out where a person falls on the emotional thermometer. Where do you land? It can be hard to tell from the inside: some of the "coolest" leaders I’ve met thought they were open and warm. It can help to get feedback from trusted friends and relatives. If you recognize that you are projecting a cool if not downright chilly demeanor, consider following the sea turtle's lead, and taking steps to…
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The Vulnerability Superpower

The Vulnerability Superpower

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Some people are naturally able  to be vulnerable with their peers. They are as transparent as possible about their thoughts and motives. They show up as authentic, imperfect selves, and allow discomfort and uncertainty. Why is this so hard for others to do? One big reason is that we worry that others will see this vulnerability and try to take us down. We want to protect ourselves, and appear as if we have all the answers. We value openness in others, but fear taking the leap ourselves. Effective leaders have figured out that vulnerability isn't a sign of weakness, but acts more like a superpower, creating strong relationships and solid trust in a way that nothing else can. "The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you,…
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