Build Your Leadership Skills this Women’s History Month

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This Women’s History Month, you can save more than 50% on the ultimate transformational leadership class for women — Leading with Love and Integrity: How to Get What You Want without Compromising Who You Are. After completing this four-hour, online course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the number one myth that prevents love from influencing the practice of leadership
  • Describe the three key differences between “being nice” and leading with love
  • Identify three ways to be vulnerable and vigilant at the same time
  • Identity seven warning signs that you are leading without integrity
  • Identify the five distinguishing characteristics of feminine leadership
  • Describe the three-step process to identify and overcome barriers to leading with love and integrity
  • Identify five gifts that distinguish you as a leader
  • Explain the five-step process to mobilize your vision
  • Identify three ways to help others create goals
  • Describe the five signs of healthy leadership relationships
  • Identify three helping, and three hindering, coaching strategies
  • Describe the three-step process to create deep, meaningful engagement
  • Identify the five key components of successful partnerships
  • Explain the six key ways to communicate with love and integrity
  • Describe eight ways to persuade with love and integrity
  • Explain five strategies to tap into the creative energy of conflict
  • Identify the ten warning signs of unhealthy boundaries in leadership
  • Describe the three-step process to fail with finesse
  • Identify five kinds of compromise and how to avoid them
  • Name eight concepts that can promote love and integrity through policies and procedures
  • Describe four meeting facilitation skills that promote love and integrity
  • Describe three ways to make the most of your limited time
  • Describe the five-step process for long-range planning that promotes love and integrity
  • Describe five coping strategies to deal with stress
  • Identify the eight steps to building a flourishing support network
  • …and much, much more!!

Click here to learn more about this opportunity to develop your leadership skills and enhance your influence and impact!

Your Questions Answered: Accomplishing Goals on Your Own

Q: If you need to accomplish something and you have no help to push you through, how do you it?

A: It can be difficult to stay on track toward our goals when we don’t have someone actively supporting our work. I’ve been in this situation, too. Here are some suggestions to accomplish your goals, regardless of the support you have from other people.

  1. Identify your internal resistance. Is there a reason why you feel hesitant to move forward without external validation and support? Identifying the sources of resistance that you may be feeling will help you move past them.
  2. Connect with your motivation. You have identified a goal. Why is this important to you? Connecting with the reason why you are pursing something as you are doing it will keep you focused and moving forward.
  3. Realize that ‘you’re it!’ Ultimately, you are responsible for your actions. While it’s nice to have a cheerleader, coach, and mentor, that just isn’t always the reality. And when we do have someone like that on our side, they may not always be available to us because they are working on their own projects.
  4. Establish an accountability system. Tell someone what you are doing to do. Post it on social media so the whole world will (potentially) know. By stating your intentions to another person or people, you may feel a stronger sense of obligation because you know that others are watching and waiting.
  5. Enjoy a reward. Celebrate your progress, however small. Do something that you enjoy doing — something just for you – when you achieve milestones on your journey.
  6. Build a support network. If you don’t have a mentor or sponsor, it may be beneficial to connect with a peer who shares or complements your experiences. The Women’s Creative Leadership Network is one way for you to connect with others and ask for advice or support.
  7. Identify other resources that you need – and go after them! You may feel stuck because there are resources – like relationships, facilities, or materials – that you need to make progress. Make a list of everything that you need and then develop a plan to get (or borrow) those items.
  8. Share your vision. Tell other people about what you are trying to accomplish, why this is important to you, and how this will benefit them. Get people excited and involved in your work – even if they are not directly with you every step of the way. Find your “first follower” to motivate you and start creating your vision.

Q&A: Dealing with Anger as a Leader

Q: As a leader, I know that I should avoid getting angry and losing control, but it sometimes happens. How can I avoid this?

A: It sounds like you might be a little stressed out. I’ve been there. Leadership is indeed a stressful occupation. You have many responsibilities, and no one quite understands what you go through every day. So it’s not only stressful; it can be isolating which compounds that stress. Here are a few suggestions that might help you overcome this challenge.

  1. Recognize that you are not alone. There are leaders all over the world who have struggles and challenges that are similar to yours. When you are going through a difficult time, recognize that your experience – while it is unique to you and your particular circumstances – is in some way shared by many other women.
  2. Connect with a network. Find a mentor or colleague who can help you navigate challenges and identify your priorities.
  3. Remember your vision and purpose. There is a reason why you chose the path you are on. Immerse yourself in that vision and purpose through creative visualization and then translate that into daily action.
  4. Practice gratitude. It is easy to be overwhelmed by challenges. Yet, we all have something to be grateful for – our family, our health, the opportunity to take one more breath. Whatever it is for you, write it down and celebrate it.
  5. Take care of yourself. When you are engaged in important, valuable work, it can be difficult (and seem selfish) to take time for yourself. Yet, if you don’t make time for yourself, the quality of your work will suffer. Make sure you get rest, eat well, take breaks, and do what you need to do to nurture your physical and emotional health.
  6. Identify your triggers. If there is something or someone in particular that is triggering your anger? If so, either remove the trigger or create a plan to respond to it in a constructive way that is mutually beneficial.
  7. Reflect. When you react in a negative way that potentially causes harm, take the time to reflect upon what happened. Think about how you could have responded better and make a plan to act accordingly in the future.
  8. Build on your strengths. If you find yourself getting angry, impatient, or judgmental, use your unique gifts, whatever they may be, to change your behavior.
  9. Remember your role as a leader. As a leader, others are watching you. You are a role model. Other people will replicate your behavior, whether it is good or bad. You set the tone for your organization. In addition, as a leader, you have a responsibility to help guide and develop those around you. Take this responsibility seriously.
  10. Have fun. Make a plan to do something that you enjoy. Get out of your work environment and do something fun. It doesn’t need to be expensive – it could be a long walk or getting together with friends. Make a list of things that bring you joy – big and small – and do at least one thing every day.

These are just a few ideas to potentially avoid having your anger take over at work. If you have any other ideas, please post them in the comments below!

Your Questions Answered: Trust, Patience, Emotions, the Comfort Zone

Q: How can I trust others to help me?

I sometimes have trouble trusting others. I know that they are (generally) good people and mean well, but sometimes it just seems easier to do everything myself. But I know that part of my responsibility as a leader is to support, guide, and uplift others around me. To fulfill this responsibility, we need to give other people space to be involved, try, and make mistakes. Yes, we need to let them fail a little, but support and catch them before they cause real harm. If you can’t trust the people around you, then you might not have the right people on your team.

Q: How can I help other people understand my goals?

With so many competing interests and compelling things drawing our attention, it can be difficult to get other people to pay attention to, let alone understand, our goals. The first step is to make sure your goals are crystal clear. That means succinct, quantifiable, and easily digestible. Once your goals are clear, make sure you are able to articulate why this goal is important to you, your organization, your community, and various constituent groups. You can tell a great story by sharing why this goal is important to you, but don’t forget to put yourself in others’ shoes to try and see things from their perspective. You can also share your goals in an open way to provoke discussion. Perhaps other people can help you refine or expand your goals so that they are even better!

Q: How can I challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone?

As leaders, it is important for us to push ourselves and redefine our limits. We can do this in ways that are directly related to our work, like making a presentation to 100 people, or in ways that expand us as a human being. Both are valuable and make use more adaptable and resilient leaders. To take on this challenge, make a list of things that you would like to do, but they feel quite scary. Think exhilaration. For me, that would be making a sales call (something I really don’t like to do, but I would like to do it because it is valuable) or, for a personal example, joining a roller derby team (which I might just do). After you make your list, including both personal and professional things to do – and you can take a few days to make your list – pick one and commit to doing it within one month. Over time, you can expand your list, pick more activities, and set more ambitious goals. Have fun!

Q: How can reign in my passion to focus on my goals?

You may be asking the wrong person. I am pretty much all over the place, and it is because I am a passionate person with multiple interests. I find it hard to focus and just do one thing. That being said, having this disposition has forced me to develop some discipline over the years to keep me on track toward my goals. First of all, you may need to prioritize your goals because, if you’re anything like me, you probably have more that you want to do than you could ever realistically accomplish. So write down those goals and prioritize them. Determine what is most important to you. Now, get out your calendar and write down specific things, even little things, that you can do to progress toward your most important goals each week. Even just one thing. So, you have prioritized your goals and scheduled time to work on them every week. Now, how do you reign in your passion? I’m not sure that you need to. Your multiple passions are what make you an interesting person, and they probably contribute to your sense of pleasure and fulfillment. And don’t forget that you have an entire lifetime to explore your passions. You don’t need to do everything right now. Keep prioritizing and adjust to keep yourself focused on your current goals.

Q: How can I use technology for my presentation without distracting my audience?

Yes, you are right – technology can definitely be distracting. But it can also be really helpful to communicate our messages. Think of technology not as a must have, but as something that enhances your delivery. In other words, don’t rely on technology, use it to add value to what you are saying. I find it is helpful to keep text to a minimum and use pictures to keep people engaged. But then, sometimes people start to write down every word because they are afraid they will miss something important! If this is the case, you can prepare notes and let the group know that you will make them available after the presentation. That way, they can just sit back and relax. Don’t forget to test out all of your technology well in advance of your meeting. There is nothing worse than having to postpone a meeting because the projector won’t connect to the computer (learned that the hard way!).

Q: How can I control my emotions so that I do not come across like a “boss?”

This is a delicate balance. Women are (too often) expected to be demure and nurturing; we are judged harshly when we exert our authority. Yet, for me, I resist authoritarianism and actively choose to engage with others in an open, responsive way whenever possible (I actually tend to be more rigid naturally, so this take some effort). I do this not to meet society’s expectations, but to align with my values. I suspect that you are similar to me in this way. You might want to read up Daniel Goleman’s concept of “emotional intelligence.” He has written a lot about the benefits of controlling emotions at work. It may benefit you to close your eyes for a few moments and take some deep breaths before you engage with others at work – especially those that might bring out the boss in you. You can also keep a journal to help you explore your feelings – their source, what provokes them, how you express them, etc. This may help you to identify ways to adjust to present yourself as the leader you want to be.

Q: How can I be a more patient leader?

Leaders are often involved in provoking change, whether it is change in organizations or change in communities. And change takes time. People don’t like change; they resist it and resent it. But, for change to be sustainable – to really get people on board with our vision — we need to work through all of its messiness. As leaders, we also try to provoke change in other people, like the people we supervise. It can be frustrating when we share our years of experience and wisdom with other people over and over again only to be ignored. Remember that you are the teacher, the guide, the source of support for others. People are looking to you for answers and watching how you respond (or react) as things unfold. Appreciating our position as a role model can help us put things in perspective and transform our feeling and how we interact with others. Our patience can also develop over time through persistence. We need to integrate both our immediate needs and our long term vision into our perspective.

Q&A: How can I create more opportunities for women as an educator?

Question:

In my society, women are not given higher positions even when she has quality, talent, and education. I want to be one of the people who can give leadership to women so they can stand on their feet. I am the owner and principal of a school. It is my soul. I am trying to make it better. What kinds of steps shall I take for its betterment? What do I have to do to become a successful businesswoman?

— Dedicated Educator and Leader in India

Answer:

Dear friend,

Your work with children is commendable. They need your time, your leadership, and your belief in their abilities. You have risen to this challenge and they, as well as your community, will surely benefit.

Your question raises three distinct but all very important questions which I will generalize a bit here:

  1. How can women succeed in a society that does not value them?
  2. How can I improve my organization so that it can have a stronger impact in the lives of children?
  3. What can I do to improve my own leadership and business skills to positively impact my school and my society?

These are all very complex dilemmas that impact women and leaders around the world. I wish that I could provide you with a simple, direct answer to these questions, but I don’t think I could fully answer these questions because 1) I don’t have all the answers; and 2) it would take a lifetime of studying, dialogue, and practice to discover the best approaches; and 3) I am not very familiar with your particular community and the specific challenges you face there. Nonetheless, I am going to provide you with some ideas that I think might be helpful not just for you but for the entire Women’s Creative Leadership Network.

Women are undervalued in many organizations and societies — in different ways and to various extents. I can identify with this challenge because I have witnessed and experienced this in my own country. We can be inspired by many examples throughout history, both in the past and more recently, of women beating the odds and attitudes about women evolving to become more understanding and inclusive. Yet, we still have quite a way to go.

There are a few things we can do, as women, to succeed despite the fact that we are undervalued in society. One of the key things we can to do to provoke transformation is to work together. We are stronger together than we are on our own. I have seen women turn against each other in competition to the detriment of our collective goals. We must support each other, uplift each other, and defend each other for our common good. My advice to you would be to connect with other women, share your struggles, ask for assistance, be helpful when you can, and have conversations about how you can collaborate. As we work on our own personal advancement, we must also stay focused on the bigger vision of creating opportunities for all women. Our success doesn’t need to come at someone else’s expense. We must also be steadfast in our insistence for rights, access, acceptance, inclusion, and appreciation of our contributions. When we are told directly or hear implicit messages that women are not good enough, we need to take action because we know better and the world will benefit from this knowledge. As women leaders, we need to actively educate and also stand as an example through our words and actions.

You do this all of this as an educator and as a leader. People look to you for guidance, wisdom, and support. By strengthening your school, you will also be able to address the needs of women in society. You can improve your school by: assessing what you need in terms of curriculum, facilities, materials, and support; developing partnerships in the community to improve the school’s access to what it needs; inviting parents and others in the community to get involved in the school through volunteer service that meet the school’s specific needs; remaining focused on your goals of providing a high quality education to your students; and continuing to learn about how other schools are addressing the challenges you are experiencing by reading and by making connections with your colleagues both in your country and around the world (you might be able to make some connections through the network). These are just a few ideas that may or may not be helpful depending on your particular circumstances.

And now for your final question. As an educator, you probably love to learn! To be a successful businesswoman, you need to never stop learning. You can learn by reading, participating in classes, reflecting on your experiences, and observing what other leaders in similar environments are doing. It is helpful to identify specific things that you need to learn and then seek that information, but another important part of learning is continually being open to receiving and re-interpreting information. There is so much that goes into being a good businesswoman, such as making good decisions, effectively managing resources, developing the right relationships, and taking care of yourself. Continue to practice and learn and your leadership and business potential will develop over time.

I hope these suggestions are helpful, and are the beginning of a conversation about how we can all create more opportunities for women in our societies. I invite all of our readers to share their ideas.

 

Life Lessons from Bucket Bathing

life lessons from bucket bathing

I recently had a small, then a big, then a huge leak in my second-floor bathroom drain pipe. This resulted in not just mold and warped walls in my kitchen but also the inability to use my shower and bathtub for about two months. It took me that long to find the right contractor and get the job completed.

I usually shower every day, even though it dries out my greying hair and aging skin. Not having access to a regular flow of water was a bit of a gross out for me. In addition, it limited my activity a bit. I was reluctant to do anything which might result in perspiration, like excessive yard work or going to the gym, as it would have been difficult to get clean.

Without a shower, I had a few options. I could have joined a fitness club, one with a shower as my low frills club has none, especially since many of them offer a free introductory month. I also could have asked friends or family to use their shower. Another option would have been to stay in a hotel. And because I live very close to not one but two rivers, a final option would be to bathe riverside.

In the end, I decided to bathe the old fashioned way, though not quite as old-fashioned as river bathing – by using a small bucket, soap, and washcloths next to my bathtub.

My time spent bathing in this way was actually quite delightful. Everything was quiet and slowed down. Instead of hearing the rushing water by my ear, I heard the sound of birds singing nearby and the hum of children playing in the distance. I noticed things that would otherwise have escaped my attention during those moments.

Yet, I would not want to bucket bathe forever. This experience helped me to appreciate having an in-home shower so, so, so, so much.

In the city where I live, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 175 occupied homes that have incomplete plumbing facilities. That means that hundreds of my neighbors need to, on a regular basis, accommodate this structural deficiency by bucket bathing or whatever method they have devised. In addition, toward the end of my bucket bathing experience, Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas. How could I possibly complain about my lack of access to water when so many lives were lost and disrupted due to this deluge?

My short bucket bathing time helped me to put a lot in perspective. It made me realize how fortunate I am, due to geography alone, and how much I take for granted on a daily basis. I am grateful to have had this experience, but I am also relieved that it is now over!

Yoga is Free!

Yoga is Free

I went on my first yoga retreat in the 1990s, to a somewhat stoic place in the majestic Berkshire Mountains. At the time, I was a recent college graduate who earned little money working at a shelter for women experiencing homelessness. Yet, through yoga all things seemed possible — not just travel to not so far away places, but also a deeper sense of connection to my purpose and desires.

Today, about twenty years later, I have mixed feelings about the growth of yoga in American society. While its now commonplaceness makes it, in some respects, more accessible to people in multiple life spectra through proximity, it has also become a huge industry. Like its sister mindfulness practice meditation, yoga also has, to some extent, become an elitist practice that makes the uninitiated feel uncomfortable and excluded through profuse use of Sanskrit without adequate translation, expensive accessories, and the removal (disconnection) of spirituality or even personal transcendence for the less spiritually inclined from its teachings.

Because I have practiced yoga for more than 20 years, to one extent or another, I find myself on many mailing lists for products and services related to mindfulness practices. One such mailing list, which thankfully I have been removed from — probably because I was found to be an unwilling customer — was a meditation supplies catalog. Now, I understand that there are many specialty items that can be used to enhance meditation practice and that these items aren’t found in every corner store. Yet, seeing all of these things for sale in one non-renewable energy guzzling mail order place signified to me a shift in understanding yoga and meditation as a space for commerce in addition to a space for connection and transformation.

This shift is a divergence from the true meaning of mindfulness practice. Yoga is free. Meditation is free. They are practices that we perform do at any moment, not avenues to promote consumption. They are about connection — both inward and to all living beings, an integration of our minds, bodies, and spirits both individually and collectively. Yoga and meditation are immediately available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Good yoga teachers are wise sages. Like artists, they inspire beauty, bring out the best in us, and build community. We should support them, including with our precious resources, because they add value to our lives. We should also support people who create safe spaces for us to practice yoga and meditation. And yes, we should support the companies that provide products and services to complement our practice. We can practice awareness by noticing when we use our mindfulness practices as opportunities to overconsume and the ways that we unintentionally exclude people, people who might so greatly benefit from this knowledge and participation, by how we talk about and present opportunities to practice yoga and meditation. The intent of yoga and meditation has traditionally been to unite, not to divide.

Like punk rock, all good things eventually become commoditized. Such was the argument made — not about punk rock specifically but about music in general — by political economist Jacques Attali in his awesome book Noise: The Political Economy of Music. We can resist this tendency by focusing on what is most important to our yoga and meditation practice – awareness, rootedness, connection, unity, and well-being.

Cauli-Mex Salad

Caulimex

When I dreamed up this little summer recipe, I did not anticipate the surprisingly lovely flavors — bold, yet subtle; rich, yet delicate. It’s super healthy and easy to make, though it does require a bit of prep time.

Serving size:

One bowl (invite your friends over to share — you will have extra cauliflower!)

Ingredients:

  • One head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup of black beans
  • 1/2 avocado
  • One lime
  • 3/4 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 3/4 cup baby kale
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh salsa
  • 4-5 sprigs cilantro

Step 1: Prepare Cauliflower

Mix one head of chopped cauliflower with olive oil and chili powder (as greasy and hot as you like it). Spread out on a baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees until it is your favored texture (I like mine crispy, almost but not quite burnt.

Step 2: Prepare Avocado-Lime Dressing

Smash 1/2 avocado. Squeeze the juice of one lime over top. Mix well.

Step 3: Assemble

(Per bowl) Line the bottom of a big bowl with baby kale and chopped red cabbage. Next, place about 1/4 of the cauliflower (save the rest for later!) in the center of your bowl. Sprinkle with black beans and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with salsa and avocado-lime dressing. Garnish with cilantro.

Step 4: Eat!

Round 2 Bonus!!

When I made this recipe, I ate everything described above for lunch and dinner and day 1. On day 2, I had all of the ingredients left over but felt that I needed a bit of a change. I sauteed the kale and cabbage in olive oil and ate those components cooked rather than raw — infusing the dish with slightly new tastes and dramatically different textures.

How to Create a Welcoming Space

How To Create A Welcoming Space.png

Our hearts and lives are enriched through relationships with other people. I can’t imagine living in a community or doing work where there are neatly constructed borders that divide people. Rather, I see community, work, and family as opportune spaces to cultivate a sense of togetherness and shared destiny.

If you, too, would like to create welcoming spaces where all people feel safe, comfortable, and free to be themselves, here are a few ideas:

Open the Door to friendship and peace by inviting others into your space.

Set the Table by preparing a feast to generously share your abundance with others.

Create the Right Ambiance by promoting a climate of openness, kindness, warmth, respect, and appreciation.