Why You Need To Change The Company You Keep

Do you surround yourself with like-minded people? Or do you feel like the odd-man out in your circle as you pursue your goals? Even your loved ones who support you may not always understand or can offer the help you need on your journey. 

The journey to becoming the most effective leader you can be is a beautiful one that requires you to change the company you keep along the way. Being the best leader you can be involves the help of others. 

John Maxwell says personal development thinks in terms of addition. Every skill or mindset is designed to add to your tool box. Leadership development thinks in terms of multiplying. You are no longer just focusing on the self, but on the many. 

In order to pursue your unique path of leadership, you must surround yourself with people of like minds. When I say like minds, I don't mean surround yourself with yes-men or people who think exactly the way you do. I mean people who are aspiring for something similar to you, who have a vision for a greater impact or to see a similar goal. Interact with people who will inspire you to keep going.

The main reason I decided to attend a women in leadership conference is to be surrounded by like minded women. I don't get to interact face to face with senior executive women as often as I would like. A conference designed for executive women is a great place to meet and mingle with people of like minds. 

Why change the company you keep

1. To prove you're not alone.

It is easy to think you are the only one pursuing a goal when you aren't surrounded by like minded people. It is easy to doubt your sanity, question your resolve, or feel out of place. Once you connect with a group of like minded people, who are pursuing their goals and dreams, you feel the freedom of camaraderie and you know you are not alone. 

2. To build your bravery.

When you feel the support of regularly interacting with your group, you give yourself permission to be braver because there is evidence all around you that you can do it. That evidence makes you braver. Peer pressure is a real. We tend to think of peer pressure as a negative, but in truth peer pressure is neutral. It depends on how you use it. So use positive peer pressure (and the bravery that comes with it) to go for your goal. We are always bolder and braver in a group than we are alone. Use that to set bigger, bolder goals for yourself and then be brave enough to go reach them.

3. To learn new ideas/methods.

Think of it like this. You're in a funk because you always cook the same recipe for dinner so you ask a friend for a new recipe. She gives you one she cooks all the time. She's tired of it and most likely gave it to you because it quickly came to her mind. The minute you get her recipe, you are out of the funk. It is brand new to you and you are excited about dinner again. You would have never put the ingredients together that way before. Now you are excited and energized to try a new idea or method. What is old to you is new and fresh for another and vice versa. 

4. To help you when we're down.

Unfortunately we live in a cynical discouraging world. There will always be that person who says, "Why bother? You might as well give up." Sometimes that person is you. No matter who it is, you need the support of others to help you get back on your feet.Troubleshooting isn't just for computers. It is for us. When we surround ourselves with people who are going through or have been through similar experiences, we have a built in trouble shooting network. You can learn how to overcome obstacles before, during, or even after they happen. 

There you have a few reason for changing you company. If you are the one everyone comes to for help or advice, then it's time to expand your network. You can not keep growing if you are the smartest, most driven person you know. A staple of my coaching business is to help my clients realize they don't know what they don't know. Seems trite but this works because the highly motivated women I work with are then determined to either learn what they don't know or find someone who knows what they don't know. They change their company often because they have dreams and goals they want to reach..and so should you! Epictetus said, 
"The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best!"

So I ask you, do you need to change the company you keep?


Own Your Leadership...Here's How!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the hard decision I made to invest in myself. Read Why Women Don't Invest In Themselves. Despite the difficulty, I did it. Next week I am going to my first professional development conference as CEO of BRAVE Communication. I am excited and nervous. This particular conference asked you to choose your track. Executive, manager, contributor etc. There are different break out groups designed for the different positions women  hold within their organizations.

I was talking to my husband about it which track I should choose. It was obvious to him but it took me a minute to own it. Then it hit me. Duh! 

"I am an Executive, therefore I choose the Executive track."

That statement both empowered and frightened me. Have you ever felt that way? You know you are in charge, in leadership, but there are times when actually saying or taking actions that prove it seem a little...well, weird?

One of the reasons women in leadership don't own their leadership is because they don't see themselves as leaders. In their own minds eye, they don't fit their own image of what leaders look like or do. Since we know ourselves so well, we know we aren't fearless or direct or very _____(fill in the blank with whatever you think the perfect leader is). For a long time, my image of leadership was an older white man in navy blue blazer, starched white button downed shirt, khaki colored slacks, and those brown loafers with the two tassels on them. 

Well I'm a young (at least I think so) black woman who likes warm colors and hates buttoned down shirts. Clearly my "image of leadership" wasn't helping me. So I got rid of that old image and replaced it with my own.

As an executive coach, one of the BRAVE mindset shifts I help my clients realize is that leadership looks like you.

I'll say it again: Leadership looks like you!

You don't have to "look", "act", or "be" anyone else. In fact, it is your duty to be yourself in your leadership. So many women I work with feel like they can't be themselves as a leader. They are afraid of being classed as either  "the Barbie or the *itch". There doesn't seem to be an in between. And what if you are a spiritual woman or woman of faith? Ha! Good luck finding your role model in business.

One of my coaching programs, Align Your Brave, is aimed at helping women in leadership find their unique leadership identity. It's not about traditional leadership assessments so much as it's about shifting the mindset to creating your own identity. It moves people from "I have to perform up to everyone else's standards" to "I have to be authentic to myself." Something amazing happens when women own their own leadership identity. Usually, they meet and often, exceed external performance standards set by their organizations. Since their standards for themselves are usually higher, they align their personal, professional and spiritual selves to maximize their leadership effectiveness. 

Whether you lead one or one thousand, you are the executive. You are the leader. Own it!

So stand up (yes now) put your hands on your hips in your wonder woman pose and say out loud to yourself. 

I am the leader!

Say it again...and one more time.

How did it feel to own your leadership? Leave me comment.

If you want to align your organizational objectives with your spiritual and your personal values, so that  ALL of you work together to accomplish your organizational goals, feeling satisfied AND maximize your impact to the bottom line, schedule a complimentary strategy session with me today. It's time to stop living fragmented and Align Your Brave. Click here to schedule a time we can talk. 


The 8 Leadership Lessons My Sons Taught Me At Dinner Last Night

My sons taught me 8 valuable lessons about striving for your goals at the dinner table last night. These sages are 6 and 4 years old and their lessons were highlighted in their actions not their words. The bottom line: Your choice determines if you reach your goals or not.

photo credit: Anushruti RK via photopin cc

Let me set the scene. It was dinner time. Our kids had salad on their plates they were reluctant to eat. The deal was simple. If you eat your salad, you can have one cupcake.

I don't call this a bribe, I call it an incentive. If they don't want to eat the salad, they don't have to. We don't yell or scold or anything. They choose to eat what they are served or not however they don't get treats or another food option if they choose not to eat what's on their plates.

Son #1 slowly but surely ate the salad. Though he stopped, he keep going after being reminded of the incentive. He finished his salad and received his cupcake.

Son #2 started to eat the salad. Slowly but surely he stopped. He too was reminded of the incentive but he decided he was finished. He did not receive his cupcake.

Let's examine the lessons my sons can teach leaders when it comes to goals.

4 Lessons from Son #1

Son #1 didn't like that the goal was so far away. He had to sludge through the equivalent of a 1/2 cup of salad but he kept his eye on the proverbial prize. He was distracted and at one point gave up until he decided to come back and finish up. It took him 30 minutes to eat his salad but he did.

1. Reaching for your goals will always take you out of your comfort zone.

You can't stay safe and achieve great things. If it were possible, everyone would achieve greatness. Let me be clear, you determine what is great for you. For my kids, "great things" equaled a cupcake. Your "great thing" maybe different from someone else's "great thing" and that's fine. Resist comparing yourself to others. Great things always requires stretching. 

2. You may not like the taste of what you have to ingest to reach your goals.

I see this with my clients all the time. They want the goal but once we start diving into who you have to become or what you have to do in order to get it, they begin to back peddle. Since we know reaching for your goals requires stretching, it will mean you will be uncomfortable. The good news is that's normal. You have to get used to greatness. It has to grow on you and it may not taste good at first.

3. Time is up to you.

I was reading the biblical story about the children of Israel's entrance into the promised land. Did you know it was an 11 day journey from enslavement in Egypt to the promised land? Yet it took them 40 years to get there. Most people scoff the Israelites because it took them so long but how many of us are going around the same mountain? The time it takes to accomplish your goals is up to you doing the necessary work. It took son #1 30 minutes but he got there. It takes as long as it takes. Being first is not always the point.

4. Attitude elongates or hastens the perception of time.

Both of my sons had a bad attitude about eating veggies. This attitude made dinner drag on forever. In truth, not much time had passed but it felt like much longer to all of us. Once son#1 decided to make eating his veggies a game, he was done before he knew it. The lesson here is that you perception becomes your reality. You can find ways to make mundane yucky things palpable. To illustrate this point, Marshall Goldsmith, executive coach to Fortune 500 CEOs, often describes two flight attendants. Both are on the same flight, wear the same uniform, and use the equipment. The difference between a flight that lasts forever and one that was great is the attitude of the attendants. 

4 Lessons from Son #2

Son#2 didn't like that the goal was so far away either. He came very close to finishing but decided not finish. He was distracted by other things and decided it was a better use of this his time to be excused and go play.

1. Go as far as you can.

When you go as far as you can, you've already gone farther than you ever have. Eating a little bit of veggies is better than eating none. Often we are so obsessed with achieving the goal that we forget to see the successes along the way. Many of my clients are recovering perfectionists. I am too. Their perfectionism has robbed them of a lifetime of accomplishments. They don't recognize, much less celebrate, their progress. Go as far as you can and you when you do you will find something to celebrate along the way.

2. Choose your goal carefully.

Did you pick your goal or did someone pick it for you? So many of the women I work with feel like they are living a life chosen for them. If you carefully select your own goal, you are far more likely to keep going when the going gets tough. I chose the incentive for son#2, had I given the choice to choose, perhaps he would have done what was required. You are in control of your choices so choose carefully.

3. Choose where you spend your time.

Son#2 decided to spend the little time he had after dinner playing with the car he got for his birthday. He didn't want to stay at the table drudging through lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage. When we are pursuing a goal we have to make choices about where to spend our time and energy. 

4. Pivoting is not the same as giving up.

When you stop doing something to do something that is better for you, that is not giving up, it's pivoting. I'll admit at first I was disappointed my son didn't finish his salad. But when I looked at his plate and saw he ate 99% of it, it was clear he didn't give up. He just made a different choice. In her book Pivot Points, leadership consultant Julia Tang Peters describes the five pivotal decision points that define a leader. One of those decisions is the turning point decision. The turning point is a decision that alters your course. My son pivoted from the course that would land him a cupcake and onto the course that would allow him the freedom to pick what he wanted. He didn't give up in a defeatist attitude. He pivoted. It takes far more courage to pivot than to give up. Don't beat yourself up for not finishing what you started. Be BRAVE and pivot. 

There you have it folks! The 8 lessons my sons taught us about leadership. 

Which lesson spoke to you the most?


3 Ways to Effectively Lead the Knowledge Worker

photo credit: cybrarian77 via photopin cc
Leading in the "Knowledge Worker" era requires a different set of skills than in times gone by. Are you ready?

A knowledge worker is defined as a person whose job involves handling or using knowledge. In other words, they "think for a living". The father of modern management, Peter Drucker, first coined the term around 1959. Knowledge workers have always been among us i.e. doctors, teachers, lawyers, professors, architects, and scientists. Yet the 21st century leader must understand and adapt to leading "new" knowledge workers. Social media specialist, analysts, software developers, app developers etc. New titles and new names means new expectation and new standards.

It used to be that knowledge workers were not the majority. During the industrial age skilled manual labor workers were more prevalent. Not so anymore. " Now, anywhere from 25% to 50% of jobs require people to create, use, and share knowledge." source The bachelor's degree is like the high school diploma. It is considered the minimum for most knowledge worker jobs.

The leader of the future must understand who knowledge workers are and how to lead them. I was listening to an interview with famous executive coach Marshall Goldsmith. When discussing knowledge workers and the leader, he stated pointedly, "They know more than you do." For high achieving smart leaders, this can be a problem. Issues of ego and being rubbed the wrong way will come up. It used to be the person who knew the most about the job was promoted to leadership. That person could then tell other what to do and how to do it. The new age of leadership can't be sustained on that archaic idea. 

It is now expected that leaders are not the ones who are technically the smartest, they are the ones who are "people smart". Leaders in the knowledge worker era must know and understand the dynamics in this era and also have the skills to lead well.

How to lead knowledge workers:


Do It Afraid

I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
 ~Nelson Mandela
photo credit: JuanRax via photopin cc
One of my favorite affirmations these days is "do it afraid". I have been telling myself this for a long time. Especially here of late. Last Friday, I published my first eBook 7 Communication Mistakes Women In Leadership Make. Even though I know it is 25 pages of helpful advice and tips for women looking to go beyond their current level of achievement, I still felt afraid.

I was afraid of how it might be received. I was afraid that it was still filled with errors that my editors and I missed. I was afraid that no one would be interested in reading it. But most of all,  I was afraid of what  publishing it meant for me. It meant I was taking a stand for myself and my business. I wrote it. I published it. It is my experience and knowledge on those pages. It represents everything my Executive coaching business is about. And publishing that book was a major investment in believing in myself. The eBook is the beginning of a new stage in my business. And deep down, I was wondering if I would be successful.

Have you ever been on the precipice of something major? A decision that you knew would change the course of your life? A decision that would make or break your character, career, or, reputation? A decision that you would look back on one day and say," that was the day when everything changed?"

What is going on in your life right now that has you scared? You know you need to make a change but the fear of doing so is almost overwhelming? Are you working at your optimal level or are you afraid to step up your game? 

Here's what happened to me. I almost decided to scrap the whole eBook idea. But deep down my spirit was telling me that if I didn't step up now, I would I miss a major opportunity to change my life for the better.

So I did it afraid. I did it afraid because I realized that I am called to something greater. I know there are women who are assigned to work with me professionally. I know there are women who need to read these words of encouragement. Just because I don't know all the details, doesn't mean I can shrink back from my assignment.

Guess what girlfriend, it's time you do it afraid. You want to advance in your career. You know there are people who are called to be under you leadership. You know that there is a greater level of influence you are called to make in your organization. Since that's the case, then I have three words for you: DO...IT...AFRAID!

You have to stop playing small. Some people are called to small (and there is nothing wrong with that) but you are not one of those people. You are called to greater things. Greater things in your work, in your family, community, government, or circle of influence.

How to "do it afraid"?

1. Admit you feel fear. 
2. Focus on the greater goal that's bigger than you. 
3. Act immediately

The benefits of "doing it afraid" are many and include

1. Doubling your confidence
2. Proving that you can overcome your fear
3. Proving to yourself that fear is not in charge of you
4. Expanding your skill set and knowledge
5. You impact other people's lives in a greater way

"Good things in life come to those who take risks. If you avoid any new experiences then you are missing out on the best that life has to offer. The longer that you wait, procrastinate, or cower in fear, the more “comfortable” you are getting with the status quo…and that’s not a very fun place to be" says accountability coach Anne Bachrach in her article The Benefits of Doing Something Uncomfortable

So what is that thing you want to do at work that you "need to do afraid"? Is it ask your boss for a raise? Confront someone? Present that idea that you've been burying? Apply for that promotion? Finish that project?

Let me know. I would love to support and cheer you on as you "do it afraid". The truth is, the more you do it afraid, you'll focus less on the afraid part and focus more on the great accomplishment of doing. Go get it!

Click HERE to download your FREE copy of my eBook 7 Communication Mistakes Women in Leadership Make 


A Free Copy of My New eBook is Waiting for You!

It is live and available free to you my lovely blog readers. Go get it. Click here.

What will you learn in this eBook:

  • a paradigm shift in how you need to view your mistakes so they don't defeat you but empower you.
  • 7 mistakes that hinder women in their leadership effectiveness.
  • the way each of these mistakes is hurting you and the people who work for or with you.
  • a simple fix to these mistakes.
  • 3 case studies of how my clients were committing these problems and what they did to overcome them.
  • what to do next to have a leadership career that is aligned with your organization and your calling.
Click HERE to get your copy today. The eBook is short on purpose so you can't say you don't have time.  

This eBook is not for everyone. This eBook is for you if you're a woman:
  • in leadership in the workplace.
  • who wants to be in leadership in the workplace.
  • who's tired of second guessing herself as a leader.
  • who's ready to align her career and her calling.
  • who is ready to see better RESULTS in her work.
  • with some grit, nerve, or boldness.
I tell it to you straight and with love. There are things you are doing that are making it harder for you to advance and been seen as the confident leader you know you can be. There are things that are keeping you from seeing the results in your team and initiatives. You can easily stop them and start seeing the progress you want.

Click here to claim your free copy today!