“I AM” and “SPIRIT” In Sync With One Another #FierceForward

Fierce Forward - I AM and Spirit = Parters

I AM – two of the most powerful words you could ever declare to yourself. This is your declaration, your choice to stand in your power and allow your vision to come to reality/ #FierceForward

SPIRIT – Your truth. Freedom is found when you live you truth and let your spirit live out loud. Do not hide. Do not deny your truth. Do not let her stay quiet. Go forward, fiercely and let your SPIRIT lead the way. #FierceForward

Knowing who we are and being grounded in our truth are at the core of what teaches us to be great leaders and even better human beings.

These bracelets are handmade using African Trade Beads to support women in Africa. They are special because they support a worthy cause and they were an authentic gift from someone whose friendship means a great deal to me.

This post is inspired by The Weekly Photo Challenge themed: Partners: Whether two of a kind, or ten, give us subjects that are in sync with one another – show us partnerships.

Learn more about #FierceForward at fierceforwardforlife.com

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Things Change, People Transition: Change as a Process

In general, change isn’t complicated, but it is complex. In its simplest form we use terms like; to alter, shift, adjust, move, switch, transfer, etc. Change is a transformation or transition from one phase, condition, or state, to another.

From a change management perspective, assumptions that each individual impacted by a new initiative will always experience change on time, on budget and on schedule, is flawed, because this approach lacks context and doesn’t always consider the people side of change. It may not consider outcomes and results after the change or ask what behaviors need to change and be sustained. Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently because people embrace or resist change differently. No two are alike.

Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently because no one will embrace or resist change the same. Individual Response to Change Management BestBehavior doesn’t happen in a predictive order and as a result, it is imperative to think about change as a process, rather than a project.

Things change. People transition.

The change curve was created in the 1960’s by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross as a way to explain the grieving process. Over time, it has evolved as a tool to help people understand responses and reactions to significant change. Since change is a non-linear process, some people may take two steps forward and one step back along this curve for a number of reasons. Some examples might include:

  • Assumed or no role clarity for the change
  • No visible support and commitment from leadership
  • Lack of project, organizational and individual change integration
  • Those impacted do not feel they have had input into the process
  • Leaders and/or impacted people are not engaged
  • No consistency in change messaging formats, channels and frequency
  • Lack of transparency about why the change is happening
  • People impacted don’t understanding of “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM)
  • Business readiness or training may have limited or no understanding of adult learning theory application
  • People don’t feel permission to speak with candor
  • Past performance with organizational change could create assumptions that history will repeat itself
  • Impact on current role and/or fear of losing a job

There are countless strategies and tools we can use to help us to understand where people fall on the change commitment curve and then subsequent strategies to take corrective action. As change management practitioners, we focus on results, outcomes, reinforcement and realization of benefits (including ROI), for the people side of change. We do this using a structured, yet flexible set of tools, processes, skills and principles to achieve the required goals of projects and initiatives.

What challenges and approaches have you experienced or used to help bring people impacted by the changes along for the journey?

Please leave a comment below. I’d like this blog to be a forum where people feel comfortable sharing what they agree or disagree with along with best practices or key learnings. I will honor desired anonymity, so if you would like to leave a response without having your name listed, please feel free to let me know.

If you found this post thought provoking, please share it with others and thank you for visiting my blog!

Thirteen Behaviors that Build Trust in Relationships

Building trust is a process of modeling behavior shared vision and repeating messaging

Building trust is a process of modeling behavior shared vision and repeating messaging

What behaviors build trust in relationships?

Think about a time you were part of a really effective team that excelled at pulling together to achieve a shared outcome. What were the attributes that made it successful?

Research shows that teams who collaborate to attain a common end goal are usually high in trust. Success often relies on a group with a sense of shared values, vision and purpose. When all stakeholders are given opportunities to have input, they are inspired to build something together, so as change leaders, how do we work to create a culture of trust? Recently I read Stephen Covey’s book called; “The Speed of Trust,” which looks at trust from three perspectives.

  • Trust as an economic driver that boosts productivity and results. Emotional deposits and withdrawals as an example.
  • Trust as the #1 competency in leadership
  • Trust can be learned

So who is a high trust leader? It is a person with high credibility, solid interpersonal skills with the ability to cultivate trust in teams and throughout organizations and knows that trust is critical to productivity and cost. The four cornerstones below are key for leaders to establish trust.

  1. High Competence -This combines the education and experience we bring to the table
  2. Integrity (Character) – Consistent alignment of thoughts feelings and actions with values principles and goals
  3. Intent (Character) – Self-reflection that examines why we do the things we do
  4. Results (Competency) – Make us credible

13 Traits of Strong Trust Leaders

  1. Talk straight so everyone understands your point of view
  2. Demonstrate respect – how you treat the one has an effect on the many
  3. Create transparency (act with authenticity and no hidden agendas)
  4. Rights all wrongs – Demonstrate accountability and humility
  5. Show loyalty to every person – Credits others for success, always speaks of others as if they are present
  6. Deliver results  (vs activity)
  7. Continuous self-improvement and commitment to learning
  8. Confront reality with tact – acknowledge unspoken and confront the issue(s), not the person
  9. Clarify expectationsvalidate, acknowledge and demonstrate flexibility to renegotiate when appropriate
  10. Practice Accountability and hold others accountable. Clearly communicate progress of self and others
  11. Listen first with intent to understand (instead of respond) what is important to others and to ensure they feel understood
  12. Keep commitments (according to research, this is the number one way to build trust)
  13. Extend trust to others
 As someone who works in change management, a good exercise might be to go through these behaviors, ask your team their thoughts about them and talk them through. If everyone agrees and has input, it could offer a basis for creating something together. It’s part of what makes change management initiatives successful.
Thanks for visiting my blog, leave a comment below and feel free to share this information with others.

Achievement, Accomplishment, Work Ethic and Success

What is achievement really? How do we get it? Where does it come from? Is it an end goal? A process? Does it take work ethic? Does it mean success? Does it make someone “accomplished” ? Find out here: Projects, perspective, insight, success.

272 steps to forgivenessDecember of 2012 I published a successful academic paper called; “Best Buy Strategic Management Analysis” which I co-wrote with some exceptionally talented people in my cohort. During that time, the company was experiencing revolutionary change, juggling reputation management issues and more. The CEO had resigned, the company founder, Dick Schulze, had written a letter to the board with intention to buy the company back and run it. The competitive market was rapidly changing, they pulled out of markets in China and the UK and had brought in new CEO, Huber Joly.

Recently, our paper reached 29,000 views in less than two years and we are proud of that. It is an accomplishment and for me, professionally, it highlights the kind of work I am capable of. The in-depth research of this globally expanding company, evaluation of their internal environment and external market conditions was a great learning experience. Read more of this post

Through Eyes of “Endurance”

The Meaning of Endurance

Embracing uncertainty knowing there is no “around, over or under.”

Having the audacity to do something unconventional, telling ourselves;

“I can, I will, I am, I believe, I trust it is time for something new and it is necessary. I will practice this until it feels normal.

Walking into the unknown with persistent fearlessness and a resilient spirit.

Forging ahead with integrity, courage, bravery, wholeheartedness and guts.

Past those who cast stones of judgement, unkind words and misunderstanding.

They will not define us.

For we know the only way out, is through, and that something better is in store.

Our self-assuredness will take us there,

because it always has.

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This post was inspired by The Weekly Photo Challenge: “Endurance. Show us what endurance means to you.

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6 Successful Ways to Influence and Lead Change

6 simple ways to get buy in and influence othersMaking meaningful connections is important in leadership. We easily get caught up in “do-and-move-forward” mode which gets in the way of slowing down to value the relationships we have built and continue to grow. 

It helps to remember that people rally around causes and values that resonate with them, especially when leading through times of change. We have been trained to continuously scan internal and external environments and there is no question it takes time to figure out how to bring others with us through the journey that is change. Our role is to anticipate resistance, lead with confidence and have empathy for and redirect individuals who may get emotional. Modeling the behavior is a given and we can’t over communicate the key messaging that is required. Below are 6 simple things we can do to lead and influence people and organizations in times of transition.

1. Reciprocate – Random acts of kindness and helping others in unexpected ways sets the tone and people will respond in return.

2. Leverage scarcity – Have conversations about opportunity and consequences of not following through.
3. Authority: Lead by example – Rituals and setting goals play important roles in bringing others along. That happens when as leaders, we engage in conversation that covers:

• The past (this is where we were, what can it teach us)
• The present (this is our current reality)
• Vision (lets create the future together)

4. Consistency in messaging – People learn in different ways using various processes. We can’t over-repeat the message
5. Practice optimism because it is contagious. Seek synergies and commonalities. What do you like about how you work well together with peers?
6. Consensus – Ask for commitment because when people make a pledge, they are more likely to follow through.

Do you have other thoughts or stories about commitments? If so, make a comment below. Thanks for visiting my blog!

You’ve Got the Power | My Law Starts Here

If I could enact a single law, it might read something like this:

Holding Hand

Compassion over judgement – Act thoughtfully and approach every human being, including yourself, with loving kindness. Acknowledge your own bias and seek to understand before jumping to conclusions. Everyone has a story to tell and asking someone about theirs may be really insightful.

Love your family in word and action – Family consists of those we choose to involve in our lives. Life is short, time slips away quickly and living with regret is daunting. The good news is every person has the gift of this very moment, so step forward, make a choice and seize the day!

Let go of the anger  In every life situation, have the courage to take a step back and ask;

  • What is really going on here?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What is my role in this situation?
  • Who or what do I need to forgive?

Practice Gratitude each day and sprinkle in a little fun.

Be kind to yourself – Cliche I know, – treat others the way you want to be treated. But how about this:

Treat yourself  the way you want to be treated.

What would that look like and if you had the power to enact a single law, what would it be? Please comment below.

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This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt: You have the power to enact a single law. What would it be? Photographers, artists, poets: show us RULES.

Learn, Unlearn, Rethink, Relearn, Innovate and Survive

Adult Learning Principles by Nicole Legault

 “Leadership should be born out of understanding the needs of those who would be affected by it.”

– Marian Anderson

In my roles as senior project manager, change consultant, marketing leader, coach and mentor, I use something called andragogy (adult learning theory) to manage and lead because I have seen its effectiveness. I thought it would be a great blog topic, so please, read on!

Throughout my professional life, I spent time designing various formats of training about topics that included marketing, identifying and adapting to social styles, emotional intelligence, repackaging a new improved client service model, how to ask for referrals, business and marketing planning, new customer acquisition, retention, social media and more.

The process of designing training modules is about working to ensure the content is engaging and adding value for the intended audience and providing them with what they need so they will adopt the new change program. When classes are written and created, the blended approaches are different for each medium. For example, content will be written differently for an e-learning self-study, vs. classroom or live web-ex conferencing.

The andragogy method leverages problem solving and collaboration and levels the playing field between learners and trainers. The six principles of adult learning theory asserts that adults are:

  • Internally motivated and self-directed
  • Experienced and bring our knowledge to the learning platform
  • Engaged when the information is relevant to our background
  • Goal oriented – motivated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors
  • Practical and need to know why they are learning the content
  • Learners who place value on being respected

For years I consulted and coached franchised business owners to help them adopt new behaviors into their practices. We did this using a structured yet flexible approach by installing repeatable and predictable processes into their businesses. Through coaching and the leadership development process, my clients learned about knowledge transfer through applying a process that looked something like this: Learn, unlearn, rethink, relearn, innovate and survive. I challenged them to step outside of old ways of thinking and to embrace unfamiliar territory. Success means we practice new behaviors until they feel normal and when we began working together, we would contract for what the behavior outcomes would look like.

While it sounds simple, it is a frightening concept because it is natural for people to resist change. It takes courage to embrace uncertainty by looking fear in the eye and pushing forward.  Coaching people through resistance management plans, I can say the greatest victories I have seen came when people chose to take a little risk that led to success and when that happened, we celebrated.

There is diversity in learning, we all discover and grab onto ideas and concepts differently. People absorb data in their own way, and when we take that diversity into account coupled with andragogy (adult learning theory), the results will lead to increased end-user adoption and better organizational change readiness, rewarding components for learners, trainers and leaders.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please share what you think about using and applying this process into your leadership style?

This infographic was created by Nicole Legault, who has a blog called “Flirting with e-learning.

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Stuck in Spin: Stopping the Glorification of ‘Busy’

There are times I find myself off in my own personal “never-never” land. It is a place I refer to as “stuck in spin” and it’s where many of us wander off to once in a while. The first time I came up with the name for it was when my son was in second grade. I had just picked him up from school and as I drove down the road my brain was in full self-chatter mode. Something brought me back into the moment when I realized that he was sharing the exciting things like what he learned in school, what they played in the gym, who made him laugh, etc. I thought:   Am I going to blink and miss my son’s childhood because I was not paying attention? This time is going so fast.  

I could say I wrote the book when it comes to being busy, but then again, couldn’t we all? Me: Full time Executive MBA Student in a one parent household who has been working as a contract project manager off and on for the past few years to diversify my resume. I have wondered about my future and this process of reinvention all while being the Cub Scout and soccer mom, Catechist, the blogger, MBA candidate, writer, author, speaker, job seeker and social media marketing consultant and strategist.

I recently found a quote on Pinterest that said; “Stop the Glorification of ‘Busy‘ ,” which came to me through Robyn Flach. Robyn is a person I know through the social media community here in the Twin Cities. The quote got me wondering how to get out of my “stuck in spin” space when it happens?

At the end of the day, we all have a lot going on as we create our futures. While that is exciting, what really counts is that we are of service to others and fully present for the people in our lives, including ourselves. I talked with a good friend about this and he shared something he pulled from storage in his garage. Notes from a seminar he attended with renowned psychologist, John Selby many years ago. I closed my eyes and my compadre read each statement below three times.

  1. I choose to enjoy this moment
  2. I feel the air flowing in and out of my nose
  3. I also feel the movement in my chest and belly as I breathe
  4. I am aware of my whole body at once, here, in this present moment

That’s it. I don’t have to say all four of them every time, but I can practice. All I have to do is 1. say it 2. do it. Any place, any time.  I can even do it with family and friends to model the behavior because when we teach, we learn. After completing this meditation, I felt centered, present and whole. It is a choice, but also takes practice. One of my favorite quotes of all time:

What we learn, we practice. What we practice, we become. What we become, has consequences.” -Earnie Larsen

Please share below, what helps you get grounded and in the moment? How do you work to stay fully present in the lives of those around you? Thanks for joining the conversation!

Wordless Wednesday: 4 Minute Meditation Getaway = Zen

Over the past few years I have been fortunate to have met some pretty terrific social media folks here in the Twin Cities. About 5 weeks ago, I came across the video below through a conversation thanks to Marketing Mama, Erica Mayer and Paul Debettignies. For 4.24 minutes, take in the beauty and just be. Thanks to them for the gentle reminder and the peace it gave. I hope you enjoy it too. Have a terrific week.

This was filmed by the talented Jon Rawlinson who is a friend of Erica. The location is Kuroshio Sea at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium- The 2nd largest aquarium tank in the world. I’d love to visit there someday. A MUST VIEW IN FULL SCREEN MODE watch.

– (song is Please don’t go by Barcelona) Must view in FULL SCREEN mode

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Day 9: Then is Now: Letting Go of Resentment

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for: 

Years ago I attended personal growth and leadership seminars by Earnie Larsen, who used the analogy of “Who is driving your bus?” to illustrate how people hold on to resentments and that often, “then is now.” So let me give you an example of what he meant by that.

When Johnny was 7 years old, his parents were constantly at odds and one day, while they were fighting, he began screaming at them to stop, started sobbing and ran outside. No one came to console him, apologize or explain the argument was not about him.

It broke a part of his spirit and sample messages he could have carried from that might be “love hurts, nobody listens to me anyway, I will never allow others to be that much in control again,” etc.

Now, what if we put that seven-year old’s outdated lie in charge of driving his life (aka bus) for 50 years? Who is behind the wheel? That is an awful lot of years of pain and false data from which he establishes his viewpoint. The reality is, his parents were probably young and just trying to figure things out themselves, but that was not what he took from the experience.

Examples like this play out every day at home and at work. As leaders,we manage people with various backgrounds and social styles. Perhaps if we keep stories like the one above in mind, it can help us incorporate emotional intelligence and compassion into our professional environments in ways that are healthy. Intent, usually comes from the right place and situations are not always as they seem at first glance.

Hanging on to resentment is a painful form of abuse that prevents us from having self-compassion, but all too often, we may not even realize we are clinging to a given injustice. That resistance gets us emotionally jammed and a majority of people do not have any idea how to get unstuck.

One solution? “And acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today.”  Someone once told me there are four stages that shine in the face of love. They are:

  1. Allowing
  2. Acceptance
  3. Approval
  4. Appreciation

These four things are at the core of who we are when we are born. What if we made it our goal to live these principles in every aspect of our lives daily as a way to get back to our core being? Including loving all of our resentments and saying yes, accepting the things we can’t control. What if this was your personal growth homework? What have you got to lose? Try it for a few days and let me know how it works for you. Who is driving your bus today?

Three things I am grateful for today:

  1. The process of allowing, acceptance, approval and appreciation.
  2. The idea that “If you don’t give yourself any options, you don’t have any choices.” There is always another way, we get to seek the counsel of others to help us with that.
  3. That I have learned how to give myself permission to let go of old resentments and lies

Day 4: Climbing the Mountain Takes Time, But Pay Off is at the Top

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for: 

Courage is the ability to do the right thing, all the time, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it might be”                                                 -Tony Dungy

My mother is one of the most resilient and bravest people I have ever known. She was a single mom during a time when women were not allowed to have checking accounts or credit. We lived in the suburbs and were the only “divorced” family on the block. At the age of 30 she was raising 3 kids all under the age of 7 and I can not begin to imagine what that must have been like.

I remember the feeling of distress when the car broke down and work was a 30 minute drive away. And the tears when her wallet, with all of the money for bills that month, was stolen at a grocery store. She surrounded herself with a community of people who were very supportive.  One year, a family from that group brought us a Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve because they knew we could not afford one.  There were blessings everywhere and despite the misfortune, we always managed to get what we needed. During that challenging time she went back to college and eventually became a registered nurse working in hospice.

So here is my point. It was hard, and overwhelming at times, but she always got back on her feet with dignity.

Her example demonstrated that if she made it through that adversity, there is no obstacle I can’t overcome. In the midst of my search for employment, I have a lot to be thankful for. I am grateful for the gifts that experience taught. It gave me a strong work ethic and  instilled in me the values of education, faith, community, building strong relationships and so much more.

Fast forward to the present. I am about half way through the Executive MBA program at The University of St. Thomas and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am blessed to surround myself with a support system of positive people I trust who give me energy and encouragement. The evolution of acquiring knowledge and learning is hard, fun, exciting, exhausting and challenging, but that is why they call it an education, it isn’t supposed to be easy. Life continues to remind me that delayed gratification works and is far more rewarding.

The groundwork I am laying is making me a better leader every day and pay off is just around the corner because when I graduate, I will have gifts no one can take from me. Integrity, faith, accomplishment, education, wisdom, stronger work ethic so much more. But the most priceless are the values that are being passed on to my son because my passion for learning and growing are showing him I live what I believe. That is my legacy, to leave something behind that will last forever. My thoughts feelings and actions are aligned with my values, principles and goals.

I am proactively adding new tools to my toolbox with the excitement of bringing them to the next adventure. I am building authentic relationships with Professors and 25 amazing people who are in my cohort as I shape my future. We don’t get anywhere by ourselves and community has been and continues to be a resource, teacher, healer and a friend. It doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me.

Four things I am grateful for today:

  1. That the process of reinventing myself has been an invigorating journey
  2. My education and commitment to life long learning and growth
  3. The people who have provided insight and direction with me throughout my career through their mentoring. People like Doug Lennick, Patty Moren, Debbie Magnuson, Priscilla FarisBarb Adams-JohnsonJohn WetzelBarb HendersonBuckley Brinkman, Paul Debettignies, Gary Stinnett, Scott Hyland, JoAnne Pastel, Tom Endersbe,  Marilyn Corrigan, Bonnie Bielen, Katherine Johnson, Jack Militello and so many more.
  4. My mom, who is simply amazing

Day 3: Rewiring Our Brains: The Power of Affirmations

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for. 

What we learn, we practice. What we practice, we become. What we become, has consequences”                                                                         -Earnie Larsen

Believe it or not, consequences can be good! A while back I wrote a post about it called “Affirmations: Kids, Empowerment and Healthy Families,” because we used affirmations at home when I was a child. I believe those declarations played a role in giving me my optimism and helped me persevere when times got tough. I have unwavering faith that when we put positive energy out, it returns to us in ways we never imagined.

I recently read The Mind Map Book: How to use Radiant Thinking to Maximize your Potential and discovered the concept of synaptic learning, a process in the brain that literally rewires how we think by transferring activity from one cell to the other. Regular use of affirmations reinforces chemical pathways in the brain, making linkages between two neurons stronger. There is a saying “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” which is a great way to illustrate the point.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. There is  proof that affirmations done right, work. In order for an affirmation to be effective, they should be stated in the present tense, express a positive statement or new truth, and be short. A couple of examples below could include:  

  • There is a great leader within me today and it is reflected in everything I do
  • Today, I take charge of my life, I am valuable and stand firmly in my belief in myself
  • People are drawn to my authenticity, positive attitude, work ethic and leadership style
  • Doors of opportunity and abundance are opening for me every day
  • I accept feedback with humility, gratitude and as opportunities to learn and grow

Three things I am grateful for today:

  1. There is power in choices and I make ones that affect my life positively
  2. My faith, because it has taught me that compassion over judgement is a reflection of who I am
  3. My commitment to life long learning, personal growth and healing for myself and others

Reflections on Leadership: Humility and Empowerment

Leadership and LearningLeadership is an evolution that comes with experience. I am grateful to have had the benefit of working with some dynamic people over the years because they have taught me profound lessons through their words and actions.

I have recently been contemplating my own journey and what it means to be a good leader. As a result of this thought process, I am adding a section to my blog called ‘reflections on leadership’ which will be nuggets of wisdom I have learned and continue to acquire as I grow. Below is the first. I look forward to the discussion.

We have learned to be humble and wise enough not to be boastful because ego is a false sense of self that comes from insecurities and misguided thoughts. Looking to external sources for validation and approval will not fulfill our needs. True leadership comes from knowing that all we need lies within us and that we are enough.

The old saying “there is no ‘ ’ in team” reigns true.  Being a front-runner means we know the climb is not about us. We need one another and empowering people to be the best they can be is the key to success. We have learned how to step back and let others shine because when we make them look good, we look even better.

Do you have a story or thoughts about humility and empowerment in leadership? Please join the conversation and share your comments below!

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