Archive for the ‘People who Live with Certainty’ Category

Positive Leadership Development: 50 Defining Characteristics of Exceptional, Authentic, and Positive Leaders

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

How do you become inspired and motivated to approach your life and career with the utmost purpose, productive action, passion, and positivity? The defining characteristics of the most successful, fulfilled, and joyous individuals — including top-flight executives, entrepreneurs, and championship team players — are about far more than the leadership style they’ve adopted or the persona they’ve assumed in order to assimilate more effectively into a particular organization and its culture. The actual qualities that make someone truly extraordinary are far more intrinsic to who they are as individuals and encompass myriad thoughtful, ingrained approaches to their life and career.

Many of the principles and precepts that create extraordinary personal lives should also permeate one’s professional approach if you are to live authentically and purposefully. The “best of the best” executive talent understands and integrates both personal and professional success principles, and they know how to assimilate and interchange these approaches throughout their lives in a way that unlocks and stimulates creativity, leverages passion, fulfills purpose, elicits development, and brings meaning. They do not reserve their deepest, most profound and strategic thinking only for work because those who live the most fulfilling lives don’t garner their joy merely from work – they thrive upon the totality of well-rounded lives and reap significant pleasure from both the professional and personal aspects of their lives.

How have they done this? Very simply, individuals who are extremely satisfied with their career progress, who are surrounded by family and other healthy relationships that bring forth their life’s greatest joy, and who live their lives with resounding positivity and meaning, typically took the time very early on to discover their life’s passions, purpose, and priorities. And since that time, they have kept these priorities defined, focused, and squarely in front them, providing guidance and clarity as they moved along their life path. They put the pieces of their life together so that their thoughts, actions, talents, relationships — even expressions of gratitude — remained centered around their deepest authenticity — who they are and what they are all about, whether they are on or off the “stage.”

50 Traits of Positive, Exceptional Leaders: The Real Career Success Tools

  1. They understand the immense, overarching importance and necessity of figuring out their life’s purpose. They have carved out time for this significant contemplation, and consider the understanding of what they are on Earth to do and accomplish to be the most useful discovery of their life. They are committed to the expression of their purpose, believing that the purpose of their life is, in fact, to apply their purpose every single day. Not surprisingly, the people who make life’s most significant discoveries and contributions are those who have embraced their unique gifts and have confidently, creatively expressed their purposeful authenticity in an imitable way. A life of greatness is a life of purpose. You are sure to wander aimlessly and build a life around the wrong targets (leading to inevitable feelings of emptiness, angst, and wanting down the road) if you don’t get very clear about your purpose.
  2. They are able to articulate with extraordinary vision and specificity what success means for them – how it feels and what it looks like in their life. They know where they want to have an impact, and they thrive on these feelings of accomplishment. They understand the types of experiences that will allow them to grow and experience meaning. Feelings of personal and professional “success” and fulfillment are important because they lay the foundation for creating true vocational fulfillment.
  3. They can readily separate the wheat from the chaff and get to the heart of the matter to focus on what’s important. They also know how to apply themselves to the most high-impact activities when they find themselves with prime work time. The sense of accomplishment they feel from these core work times fuels further action and keeps progress and momentum moving forward. When focusing on details, they don’t lose sight of the big picture.
  4. They have strong self-assessment skills and have unlocked and understand their intrinsic talents and gifts. Their time spent at work adds to their self-esteem because they are actively engaged in roles that leverage their strengths and interests and/or that allow them to develop. They have actively sought and utilized developmental feedback throughout their careers.
  5. They positively approach their thoughts in such a way that they intrinsically bring to bear their best self, making choices and decisions that help them remain in a purposeful, pure, dynamic, and positive flow.
  6. They don’t merely skim the surface of their lives. They dig in deep, and think profoundly and with the big picture in mind.
  7. They live and work deliberately and in the “here and now” moment. They maintain a “present” focus – not ignoring the past or future – but remaining engaged in the improvement of current actions and processes.
  8. They get extreme comfort and pleasure from their family and friends and understand that these individuals and healthy relationships are, in fact, the most important, enduring aspects of our lives and have so much to do with our life’s fullness and degree of happiness. (Just ask one terminated executive whether he made the right decision in neglecting his family/children for years for his job, and you’ll never have to wonder if it was the right thing to do again. If your family is, in fact, the most important aspect of your life, you will not allow them to be neglected. You will allocate time appropriately to both family and career.)
  9. They live principled lives of high moral character, integrity, and honesty. Their values permeate their personal and professional lives.
  10. They have a need to constantly self-actualize and achieve. While professionally they keenly watch the competition and are, indeed, competitive individuals always striving to win and be the best, personally they don’t continually waste time comparing themselves with others, as they tend to leverage their own strengths with the fullest force. They have discovered ways to feel acknowledged, needed, valued, positively challenged, responsible, significant, successful, appreciated, and encouraged at work which carries over to bring positivity to their personal lives.
  11. They possess an abundance mindset and believe that their effort and expression of their purpose will be rewarded. They don’t believe that there is a limited supply of reward.
  12. They feel good about themselves, are unpretentious and do not live or work from a place of massive ego. Because they live from a core of pure purpose and passion, they have solid self-esteem and solid footing.
  13. They treat others with dignity and respect expecting to earn the reciprocation like everyone else – one step, one interaction, one day at a time. They are ever mindful of the best interest of others.
  14. They set priorities based on their purpose and their life’s overarching goals. They have sacred boundaries drawn around certain activities and people that they do not cross. Their priorities are very clear which prevents feelings of bitterness from developing when they do have to make a sacrifice. They have a balance in their life that allows them to enjoy and take pleasure in personal and recreational pursuits. They have an internal equation and compass for how to divide their time. They have not sacrificed their personal lives for their career. They listen to their internal voices when they get out of balance and need to redirect their time.
  15. They are flexible as needed because they have their eye on a larger prize than just the hour, day, or even the week. They know that the external world will always be fundamentally unpredictable, but their firm dose of purpose – internal certainty about what they want and who they are – allows them to make the occasional shift or sacrifice.
  16. They understand the significant role that serendipity can play in our lives, particularly, when we are in our flow or zone, and they follow their instincts and hunch as they see fit.
  17. Money, prominence, and prestige are not their sole, or even primary, drivers. While they want financial stability and freedom, they clearly understand what brings them deep meaning and joy. They have not allowed their priorities to become completely skewed by building a life purely around financial success – this is one of the reasons that many wealthy executives eventually get to a place of inevitable unhappiness and not uncommonly want to make a late-career switch to a not-for-profit leadership role that might bring more meaning. Money and financial rewards serve as poor guiding lights with respect to our happiness and life satisfaction – and once you use them as your key goal, you find it harder to ever supplant them with more meaningful drivers. When your vocation is truly a part of bringing forth your most fulfilling life, it provides deep and lasting personal development, growth, service to others, contribution of your unique gifts, and achievement of meaningful benchmarks. It also brings appreciation, recognition, and acknowledgment from constituencies that matter to you — be it family, friends, a team, colleagues, or customers.
  18. They haven’t drawn a line or separation between who they really are – purpose, passions, spirit – and their vocation or career. They don’t feel as if they must abandon their true essence to go to work and get through the day. Rather they approach all aspects of their life with the fullness of their purposeful authenticity.
  19. They do not allow fear to hold them back. They are bold and are not afraid to take a risk, seize the moment, be different, think different, or express their individuality. Because they possess the ability to think deeply and strategically, they are not reckless. Their risks are thoughtful and calculated. They know that very often moving through fear and anxiety is how greatness is born.
  20. They possess the ambition to realize their fullest potential.
  21. They find their jobs to be fun and exciting – they like what they do professionally and they want to do it. They literally will get up earlier than necessary in the morning because they are excited to start their day. An amazingly small number of people are truly jazzed and energized by their jobs.
  22. They believe that the future is big, compelling, and great. They live with hope, optimism, and positivity. Their optimism, when combined with purpose, brings them to their goals, heightens their confidence in their capabilities, and inspires additional goals that further build upon their success.
  23. They are resilient through change as they accept change as a part of life and welcome the lessons change brings as an integral aspect of their intended personal growth and development. They keep their eye on the prize/big picture. Life’s inevitable changes, challenges, and distractions are part of the cycle, and they don’t allow themselves to be sidetracked from taking purposeful action toward their goals. They don’t lose their hope and optimism.
  24. They feel that they are doing something for the greater good, beyond their professional demands.
  25. They feel immense gratitude for their good life. Nothing is taken for granted. They express their thanks and gratitude freely and frequently. They are grateful for all that they have and believe with no doubt, and with immense hope and optimism, that even better is on the horizon.
  26. They live without a victim mindset. They view themselves as capable, self-sufficient, and ready to lead.
  27. They take responsibility and don’t make excuses.
  28. They are hard workers who diligently and conscientiously apply themselves, personally and professionally. They never stop taking action to move forward. Even when they are tired, stressed, or anxious, they maintain a high level of effort and action. They are thorough, outstanding in their execution, detail-oriented, and the quality of their work is exceptional. They always go above and beyond.
  29. They want to leave a legacy that is significant and meaningful and that leaves the world a better place than they found it.
  30. They create and engage in traditions and celebrations, personally and professionally.
  31. They are life-long learners and are open to learning from anyone anytime. They admit when they don’t have the answers and proactively educate and inform themselves. They are always eagerly seeking further learning, development, and enlightenment. They never stop trying to move themselves to the next level. This approach to life keeps you moving forward; when aligned with purposeful action, you are an unstoppable force.
  32. They work to earn people’s trust knowing that trust-based relationships endure.
  33. They inspire confidence by not only knowing what to do, but through a willingness to jump in and take action themselves.
  34. They are strong mentors and get personal satisfaction from developing others, empowering them, and seeing them progress. They have also sought and utilized mentors and have surrounded themselves with an inspiring, supportive inner circle.
  35. They see things through and honor commitments rather than giving up or flitting from one thing to another.
  36. They expect tests and challenges to happen from time to time and face anxiety and challenges head-on while maintaining the greater perspective that irrespective of how dire the situation may seem, it will somehow stretch, grow, and serve them. They have perspective about life’s inevitable ups and downs, and face them with resiliency. They do not get sidetracked for long or sabotaged. They can be counted on to become their best self and best leader during times of challenge. They know that by kicking into overdrive to solve a particular problem, they will open new doors. They step into action, step into the moment, and proactively reshape and redefine the situation with authentic inspiration, confidence, resolve, strategic thought, and optimism. When faced with trials, their dreams and visions do not diminish, but rather grow more resolute.
  37. They are proactive about keeping to the path that feels right for them and maintaining their peak energy level and happiness. When they find themselves in bad situations, perhaps an ill-fitting role, culture, or supervisor, they figure the best way out.
  38. They take great pride in being good managers and leaders and garner significant personal feelings of reward from teaching, developing, and recognizing others, and also from fostering effective teamwork. They gain significant fulfillment from helping others to achieve, reach goals, and be their best selves. They truly want to positively touch the hearts and minds of others.
  39. They are strong communicators and relationship builders who take the time to develop deep, engaged, and meaningful relationships and to express interest in others. Even those individuals with a more introverted intrinsic nature take the time to cultivate relationships. They believe in the power of interconnectivity and respect the ability and potential contribution of others. They effectively team with others and excel in the communication and buy-in of collective mission, vision, and values. You cannot build a truly successful team and culture without leaders who are relationship builders. Our relationships — and how we cultivate and grow them – can make or break our careers and lives.
  40. They don’t carry unnecessary burdens and fret about the past.
  41. They tune out naysayers and armchair quarterbacks, never allowing the uninformed to take them off their course.
  42. They possess a keen awareness that they are setting an example for others in everything they say or do, in the vision they share, and in their demeanor. They roll up their sleeves and jump in whenever needed. They walk their talk.
  43. They care for and nourish themselves, physically, mentally, spiritually.
  44. They create and innovate.
  45. They have a sense of humor.
  46. They don’t waste a lot of time being offended, taking things personally, complaining, or fretting over who likes them or who doesn’t.
  47. They believe in their greatness, maintain a focus of excellence, visualize their success, and never stop dreaming and believing that all their driving desires will come to fruition. They live from a positive baseline. They expect success yet are undaunted (and may even be surprised) when things don’t come together as planned.
  48. They are completely self-motivated.
  49. They always celebrate success, big or small, knowing that supporting progress along the right path is as important as setting the right goal.
  50. They do not participate in negative energy-producing situations, including gossip and discussion of the trivial. They bring positivity in the face of negativity. They have full lives and realize that their full effort needs to be placed on the meaningful. When they do have time to unwind and relax, they do not focus on anything that carries negative, destructive energy.

The approach of the most purposeful, fulfilled and successful individuals teaches us the importance of living an integrated life that leverages your best, most profound and inate abilities and traits. Through discovering your purpose, and subsequently experiencing passion through the application and leverage of your unique gifts, you can experience new dimensions of yourself and begin to live with an underlying fulfillment, optimism, self-assuredness, confidence, and deep joy that you may have never previously known.

Living with Certainty
While clearly there is no one right way for everyone to live that carries with it the absolute guarantee of success and fulfillment, just beginning with the intention to create a more authentic, passionate, and abundant life carries power that can help to fuel productive action. Living with Certainty™ describes a process or template for uncovering your best self and beginning to live from a place of pure, purposeful positivity. This places you into your life’s optimal flow from which the fullest expression of your potential can begin to be realized. How you overlay the template to your own life, and the extent to which you attach the insight and meaning that subsequently emerges, is up to you. For some this process is intrinsic to who they are and how they live – they don’t call it “living with certainty.” Rather it is simply how they live their most authentic life. I have seen it time and again.

Living with Certainty™ can reveal to you a fresh perspective on your life and how you have up until now approached the discovery of your best self and your life’s purpose. This new lens can help you to understand how the path you have taken, for better or worse, has led you to the place you are today, and to chart a new course that will bring you ever closer to deeper meaning, fulfillment, and success (however you define that for yourself).

Kristi LeBlanc has spent over 15 years as an award-winning, retained executive recruiter with the globe’s largest, most prestigious executive search firms, including Korn/Ferry International where she was a Senior Partner. She is currently the Executive Vice President & Managing Director, N.A. Consumer Practice with DHR International, a top-5, retained, global executive search firm. She is also the author of the three-time award-winning book, “Living with Certainty: Experience Deep-Soul Joy,”  and the creator and CEO of Living with Certainty™ LLC where she is a corporate keynote speaker and organizational/personal consultant with a focus on developing positive leaders and positive corporate cultures. To learn more visit http://www.Livingwithcertainty.com, http://www.dhrinternational.com/consultants/consultantsviewbio.aspx?consultantid=329, or call Kristi at 303-997-9328.

“Work can provide the opportunity for spiritual and personal, as well as financial growth. If it doesn’t, we’re wasting far too much of our lives.” – James Autry

 

The New Power: Pure, Passionate Positivity for Life and Career

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Serious, mainstream discussion about the power of pure, passionate, positive energy is becoming more prevalent everywhere I go – company/client meetings, schools and universities, health clubs, churches, book clubs, you name it. Organizations of all shapes and sizes are indicating a high need for an infusion of positivity throughout their ranks. Meetings, correspondence, water cooler talk, clients/customers, and overall corporate cultures are increasingly becoming infused with negativity in attitudes, demeanors, vocabulary, and rhetoric. Whether the context is personal or professional, pervasive negativity can sabotage all of your other efforts.

As an executive recruiter and business consultant focused on the recruitment of positive leaders, as well as on the development of powerful, positive corporate cultures, I have repeatedly witnessed first-hand the command and influence of pure, positive energy. Whether I am placing an individual into an executive role, or working with an organization to plant the seeds of a more positive, productive culture, the corporate need in this tough economy has been the same for several years: recruit the most positive, resilient, and inspiring leaders possible, and develop initiatives, programs, and job profiles that will engrain a more positive attitude — and more positive results –throughout the organization.

The collective consciousness, or culture, of your organization – its intrinsic values, attitudes, rhetoric, and behaviors — infuses the business and its employees. Positive, affirming corporate cultures are dynamic, energized work environments that proactively drive employee behavior creating better teamwork, and, overall, a more productive, engaged state of mind for all of your employees. Your leaders and managers set the tone for your organization’s culture. And if they are not putting forth a conscious, clear, and consistent effort to be positive these days, the slide will inevitably be toward negativity.

Through Thousands of Conversations…
In almost 15 years as a retained executive recruiter, I have had the privilege of interviewing and assessing literally thousands of the globe’s most successful, purposeful, passionate, fulfilled, and joyous individuals. A guiding, intrinsic positivity and passion for what they do are defining traits of the “best of the best” executives — their work is more to them than a job. It is also interesting to note that the executives in “transition” who tend to rebound the fastest — not only securing a challenging and personally fulfilling role, but building an impressive and lasting network along the way — are innately positive individuals with a strong sense of resiliency and faith that they will land on their feet. People – including potential employers – are attracted to them and want to be around them.

Defining Positivity
Specifically what constitutes positivity and positive energy as I describe here? Well, this is about a great deal more than merely smiling, posturing, cheerleading, or repeating positive affirmations. This has more to do with a palpable optimism, confidence, faith, encouragement, empowerment, vision, and resiliency in your interpersonal and communication skills, values, beliefs, actions, demeanor, relationships, expressions of gratitude, and overall leadership style.

Profound positivity and positive energy – the kind that carries with it the potential to transform lives and organizations — is substantial, inspiring, and contagious, even in the worst of times. It can’t be faked. It is intrinsic to who you are and how you live your life, personally and professionally.

And it all starts with feeling passionate and purposeful about what you do.

If you are in a leadership role, ask yourself: Do my thoughts, choices, emotions, attitudes, approaches, actions, and belief system all positively align every day in the pursuit of my passion and potential? Does every day bring for me the opportunity to optimize my greatness and success? It is through the daily, personal application of an integrated, positive alignment between your purpose and passion with your thoughts, actions, beliefs, and expressions of gratitude that you will create a life of great reward and fulfillment.

The Power of Living All Aspects of Life with Positive Energy
Despite the depressed economy and market conditions, there are those people and organizations that are not merely surviving, but thriving. According to a Stanford Research Institute study, 88 percent of success is about attitude and only 12 percent is about education. Those people who live and work from a baseline of pure, passionate, positivity live fuller lives and enjoy myriad other benefits, including improved health, affirming personal and professional relationships, enhanced joy, productive choices and decisions, effective leadership, greater resiliency, enhanced professional accomplishments and success, and more effective problem-solving abilities.

Your ability to maintaining a positive mindset in both your life and work is a determining success factor, particularly in the toughest of times when so many people are being asked to take on added responsibilities and work longer hours. Everyone has felt the pressure brought on by restructuring, downsizing, upside down life-work balance, external uncertainty, and reduced budgets. The repercussion of these business adjustments is a resultant pervasive attitudinal and cultural slide toward apathy, pessimism, and outright negativity.

The demand for positive leaders has never been greater. You will always be challenged and tested, and an innately positive mindset serves as the bedrock of an iron will and the ability to prevail. To live a truly productive life and have a successful career, you must consistently rise to the occasion when faced with adversity, roadblocks, or negativity. Yet finding individuals, teams, and organizations that have at their core an unwavering positivity is rarer than one might think.

Without the internal fire provided by living and working everyday with purpose and passion, you won’t have the fuel to keep moving forward in the toughest of times. This is the secret of life-long positivity, fulfillment, and joy: irrespective of your specific circumstances, if you first believe that your own life has purpose, you follow your passions, and you live with an abiding faith and perspective that a master plan exists for your life and its inherent lessons, then you tap into a self-actualized personal power and internal certainty that empowers every aspect of your life, including your career.

What Does It Mean to Live with Certainty?
I am frequently asked to define what it means to “live with certainty.” It means that the internal faith, belief, authenticity, purpose, passion, and positivity with which you live ignites an internal certainty, power, and influence greater than any fears or anxieties you may have. Self-actualized, high-achievers live and work each day with purpose, passion, and gratitude which serves to further fuel their positive attitude and productivity. Positive leaders understand that while they cannot control every aspect of their lives, they can control their mindset and attitude. They possess an unyielding faith and confidence in their vision and ability to ever-create a better future, personally and professionally. They trust in themselves and their abilities. Pessimism and negativity are not part of their mix.

Make no mistake; this is not the Pollyanna-Sunnyside view of life. Rather, it’s one of the most profound and effective ways to “cowboy-up” — when things get tough you must have the positive belief in yourself and your ability to prevail to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep trying. And as a leader, you must model this approach for your employees every single day.

Positivity as Key Leadership Trait
In this challenging business environment, positivity as a key leadership trait is a highly sought after attribute that is increasingly finding its way into every job description I write. Increasingly, when I am retained to replace a senior executive, it is because the incumbent was not a transformational conveyer of positive belief within the organization, but rather was perceived as entirely focused on the financials, unapproachable, overwhelmed, overstressed, and underwater.

Positive leaders generally tend to be more motivated and productive than less positive individuals. They inspire others with their belief and faith in a better future in a way that is contagious. A truly positive leader first believes in the grand potential of his/her own life, which only then can transfer to his/her career through the expression of a passionate and achievable vision for their company, employees, and customers. Whether personally or professionally, the positive leader believes that he/she will successfully tackle the next challenge, climb the next mountain, make that next sale. 

Your goal as a leader should be to uplift the beliefs of your employees. As a leader you establish your personal style and “brand,” in part, based upon the level of positive energy in your actions, reactions, vision, beliefs, interactions, relationships, progress, and expressions of gratitude. If you truly want to set yourself up for the next big job or promotion, begin by being the most positive, optimistic, faith-fueled visionary in your organization, particularly during the most challenging times.

Without question your demonstrated belief that you can succeed in a down market will go a long way in bringing out the best in others. This belief should be palpable in everything you say and do, so that when you do have to make the tough calls, your employees will have greater trust that your actions are in the organization’s best interest. The great contributors and great leaders have the ability to remain optimistic and fueled by positive energy even in the worst of times. Particularly when the going gets tough, they maintain positive energy through an optimistic attitude that they control much of their destiny and the best is yet to come, as well as an unflinching belief in a greater purpose which inspires powerful action.

The level to which you feel and express positive energy will directly affect the depth of your relationships and, as a leader, the ensuing level of respect and credibility you receive. Throughout my career working with organizations of every size and sector, I have witnessed the tremendous impact one positive leader can have on an organization. This is especially true with sales leaders where it is said that a lack of positive attitude plays a role in the failure of up to 50 percent of all salespeople. If you can’t successfully overcome rejection and navigate the left turns, hurdles, and roadblocks, you’ll never really understand your own resilience and personal power (or inspire anyone else), nor will you achieve your greatest potential and success.

Do you as a leader, or do the leaders in your organization, understand the impact you/they have on the beliefs, confidence, and goals of your employees? Do your employees believe that you care about them? Do they find you to be inspirational and positive? Do people love working for you? Do you have a reputation for bringing out the best in others? What you personally believe and project — and the limits you set — are contagious and affect the degree to which your employees actually engage and feel loyalty toward you and your organization.

Positivity Begets Positivity
I know for certain that positivity begets positivity. As you extend the best of yourself and release positivity into the world, you invite more positive energy into your life, and goodness will ensue. I recently heard Oprah Winfrey say that you must believe that great things can happen in your life. When you are the recipient of goodness or positivity, recognize it, give thanks for it, and hold it in your heart. And then with every opportunity – how you live, how you give, what you do, and who you are, release that goodness and positivity back out into the world as it was given to you.

I look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead about the power of positive energy and how to inject more of it into your relationships, leadership and team-building approach, and corporate culture. Whether in your career, family, school, sports team, or church group, you can become the positive difference-maker who characteristically reveals your best self and shines. The results will be inspired and engaged family members, children, friends, co-workers, team members, and customers who will in turn feel unleashed and inspired to allow their own best selves to shine. This is the stuff that transformation and success are made of. I invite you to become an active participant in my Positivity Blog — strategies for life and career — by sharing your comments at http://www.livingwithcertainty.com/blog.

Kristi LeBlanc is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director, N.A. Consumer Practice with DHR International, a top-5, retained, global executive search firm. She is also the author of “Living with Certainty: Experience Deep-Soul Joy,” which was named Best New Non-Fiction Book of 2010 by USA Book News,  and the founder and CEO of Living with Certainty ™ LLC where she is a workshop presenter, keynote speaker, and organizational consultant with a focus on developing positive leaders and positive leaders and corporate cultures. To learn more visit http://www.dhrinternational.com/consultants/consultantsviewbio.aspx?consultantid=329,  http://www.Livingwithcertainty.com or call Kristi at 303-997-9328.

Work can provide the opportunity for spiritual and personal, as well as financial growth. If it doesn’t, we’re wasting far too much of our lives. — James Autry

85 Ways To Lose REAL Weight This Summer | Lighten Your Load

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I work hard to keep my life as simple as possible. Why? Because when my life is simple, I feel good – at peace, joyous, lighter, and more centered. The less I have to do that isn’t in some way related to the expression of my intrinsic purpose in life (or somehow related to the creation or maintenance of my deepest joy) – and the less that unnecessary burdens and complications weigh me down — the happier I am. This isn’t to say that I’m not extremely busy – I am. Nor is it to say that I’m not constantly stretching myself and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I am (and that’s the real secret to my success). But I know my limits, I know what really keeps life simple (a pure, purposeful, and authentic life of the highest integrity…in a nutshell), and I know when to retreat and recharge. And by keeping my focus on having a focused, simple, pure, and loving life, I can then (with relative ease) retreat to that place of pure rejuvenation and centeredness whenever I need to.

For the 40+ crowd, it was easier to do this when we were kids, – to naturally recharge our batteries – because we purely flitted from one pleasure pursuit to another…the next laugh, the next smile, the next popsicle, the next great adventure. As adults, however, many of us have so aimlessly created so many activities, circumstances, and responsibilities in our lives that really have nothing to do with the expression of our purpose — or the creation or maintenance of our deepest joy — that many people are experiencing little – if any – satisfaction in their lives. Not at all what was intended for our lives.

NOTE: I’m talking here about practical, doable ways to simplify and experience more joy in your life if you’re one of the many mature, hard-working people –parents and professionals — who I routinely speak with who are stressed, burned out, mired in negativity, and in need of some relief. However, there is a new generation (or two) of surly young individuals who have made selfishness and the pursuit of surface pleasures – not integrity or purpose — a way of life. And that’s a different issue altogether (and these individuals in many ways contribute greatly to the stress and negativity that others are experiencing today).

But the opportunity is still there for all of us – to varying degrees — to return to lives that are as easy and simple as possible. We can create adult lives that provide comfort, joy, and peace to us when we need it. That’s not to say that we won’t have circumstances and complications in our lives that we haven’t asked for or created. Without question, there are bad breaks and tragedies that are not of our own making. And in these circumstances, it’s all the more important that we take care of ourselves – mentally, spiritually, and physically – or we can drown in our valid pressures and worries.  

So, how do you start un-complicating – at least to some degree — a complicated life of your own making? How can you shed unnecessary burdens and stressors that are weighing you down and stifling your hopes and deepest joys?

Ask yourself, do I still view my life, my potential, and my future through the same hopeful, positive lens through which I so naturally viewed the world when I was younger? If the answer is “no,” it’s time for a paradigm shift — because no matter what you face in your life, you deserve to experience as much joy, hope, and belief in a better tomorrow as possible.  When you consider the negative circumstances in your life that are of your own making, what specifically have you created or included in your life that is so spirit-draining? Bad career choice? Too-large of a mortgage? Toxic relationships? Over-spending?

In days long gone by, the living was easier. As a child, you moved in the direction of what was fun, what thoroughly engaged you, what brought joy, what felt good. There was no overthinking, no politics, no conditioned fears. There wasn’t even always a plan. Who was kind? Who was nice? What was fun? Who was fun? Who laughed a lot? Where were the best popsicles, the best pools, the best friends?

I rode my bike, picked blackberries, plucked vegetables from the garden and rinsed them with the hose, swam in the neighbor’s pool, jumped rope, played hopscotch, laid in the grass, drank Kool-Aid, ran with the dog, explored, and napped when needed. Ideal. And, as it turns out, even after many left turns and failed experiments, these are still the activities that bring me joy and center my soul (with a great bottle of wine thrown in every now and again). Why did I let my favorite activities go for so long? Sure, my teen years and young adulthood brought different interests. But at the same time, I allowed a core part of who I was to evaporate, as many people do. Why do we as adults allow the things we loved as children to become irrelevant, esoteric, and arcane aspects of who we once were?

Conditioning, pressures, expectations, difficulties, experiences, circumstances, coping mechanisms, etc. all kick in and change the extent to which we feel we can live freely and trust ourselves. We no longer view our choices, our activities, and our world through a simple lens. There is so much else to consider now. There is not enough balance.

We began orienting our lives differently and making choices that seemed safe in helping us to avoid what we don’t want, but that no longer necessarily move us toward what we do want. We do this as adults as naturally and effortlessly as we used to — in days gone by — gravitate toward bomb pops, smiles, and sunny playgrounds.

Think of the little ways every day that you “have to” avoid creating what would really make you happy because you are too busy prioritizing the avoidance of potential trouble or conflict. For example, for all of us, a loving, safe  atmosphere in our homes should serve as our lives’ foundation, but you may feel the need to avoid conflict with your spouse, parent, or child and so you avoid being at home altogether or you avoid engaging with others in your home by working more, talking on the phone more, spending time on the computer more, drinking alcohol more…everything but really creating the loving, safe, peaceful, and joyful environment – a soulful baseline — that could feed your soul and move your life forward in all the right ways. And all of these meaningless activities and time-wasters complicate your life in ways that remove you from your center of mind-body-spirit balance.

Your life can be as simple and balanced — or as complex and off-kilter — as you choose to make it. Here are some suggestions for finding your way back to simplicity, balance, and joy. Make a habit of as many of the following approaches as you can and you will see your life begin to change for the better:

  1. Don’t make things so hard – the moments when you feel at peace, calm, and balanced are those times when you are doing what is right for you. Trust this feeling. Strive to make the circumstances and activities of those times the predominate themes in your life.
  2. Maintain your health. Nothing will work right in your life without it. If you’re not focusing on being healthy, start here.
  3. Give your body the sleep it needs. Physically, mentally, and spiritually, your body needs to operate from a place of balance, and sleep is an essential aspect.
  4. Go to bed earlier and get up earlier. Avoid starting your day off by rushing or being late.
  5. Catch yourself comparing yourself with others and feeling competitive and jealous. Shun those thoughts – shut them down, as they are completely wasted time and mental effort.
  6. When you’re wrong and you know it, just quickly say so, apologize, and allow everyone to move on. Don’t allow stupid things to fester. We all make mistakes; we’re all wrong at times.
  7. Stop being a people-pleaser and stop trying to make everyone a friend.
  8. Stop being offended when everyone doesn’t want to be your friend. You can be kind, a nice neighbor, a compassionate human being, and helpful co-worker without having to be friends with everyone. Many of us already have a boat-load of significant relationships that we’re not paying enough attention to. I am extremely selective about with whom I’ll establish a personal relationship. There should be a values-match with the people you allow in your life. They should support you and you should support them. If they don’t make you feel good about you, question that relationships place in your life.
  9. Don’t talk incessantly about yourself. If you’ve been visiting with someone and all you’ve done is talk about yourself, trust me, they won’t want to visit with you anymore (and this may explain why everyone doesn’t want to be your friend).
  10. De-clutter your primary living and working environments – office, home, car, etc. Clutter is damaging to your energy – mental and spiritual.
  11. Forgive those who have hurt you – do it for you. There are many great books on learning to forgive. Living with Certainty: Experience Deep-Soul Joy also provides a strong approach to beginning the process of forgiveness.
  12. If you don’t know the answer, ask for help – be it directions, advice, instructions, etc. Get the help you need and move on. Asking questions or for clarification politely is not confrontational and is not belligerent. Getting answers will help you do things right the first time.
  13. Figure out where your life’s primary frustrations and time-wasters are, and put a plan in place to fix it. Get help, eliminate, put processes in place…fix it…now.
  14. Don’t assume …just stop making assumptions. Ask questions, clarify, converse, communicate.
  15. Don’t expect others to make assumptions. If you want something done a certain way, say so. You are not being aggressive or out of line when you politely state what you want.
  16. Take control of your temper by remembering to pause and breathe when you are about to say something nasty or rude. Stop yourself – pause — before a single word comes out of your mouth. You’ll save yourself a lot more time and heartache if you don’t speak out of anger.
  17. Always, always, always live below your means. Don’t make big impulse purchases….ever. Think about it first.
  18. Never, ever forego your monthly savings plan unless for a catastrophic emergency.
  19. Really do surround yourself with people who are smarter, funnier, and healthier than you. It really motivates you to raise your game and also comes in handy when you need help or guidance.
  20. Remember…what you do to others has already been done to you. There is no avoiding karma. Allow karma to serve as a self-governing system for all of your actions and words.
  21. Do what’s good, what’s right, what’s true for you. Always. Even when it’s not popular. Follow your own internal instruction system. And I don’t mean, if it feels good, do it. I’m referring to getting in touch with your spirit core and living from this place of pure, purposeful, high integrity. There is only one kind of authenticity – and that’s spirit-driven. Only the “Ego-You” is suggesting that you get tattoos, dress scantily, be rude, and so on.
  22. When stressed, anxious, or angry, go workout, go for a walk, physically burn off some energy.
  23. Never drink and drive.
  24. Be trustworthy. Honor all commitments and be known as an honorable, responsible person. Follow through, follow up, be impeccable in word and deed.
  25. Know that it’s never okay to say, “I’m always late.” (It’s very character revealing.)
  26. If you feel love, say so — frequently. “I love you” is a good thing to say.
  27. Use prioritized “to-do” lists every day/week if you really want to get things done and see forward progress in your life.
  28. Incorporate technology into your life wherever and whenever possible. It should expedite and simplify, not complicate, a lot of routine tasks.
  29. Never lie. Never steal.
  30. Avoid long daily commutes.
  31. Be honest with yourself. Living from a place of denial will prevent you from being deeply, truly happy.
  32. Live authentically; embrace your unique spirit-self. Allow others who are important to you to know who you really are.
  33. Only multi-task if you are someone who can get things done.  If you only really accomplish things one task at a time, then, by all means, do one thing at a time as expeditiously as possible. 
  34. When packing for a trip, take the time to plan out what you will really need, and limit yourself to that.
  35. Clean as you go.
  36. If a job isn’t worth doing right the first time, then why do it at all?
  37. It’s not cool — male or female — to be proud that you can’t cook. It just isn’t. Learn to grill, learn to make a few simple things, but please don’t brag that you can’t cook.
  38. Shop when you need to, not just because you want to.
  39. Use cash, not credit, as much as possible. If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy an unnecessary item on credit.
  40. Mind your own business. Nobody really likes a nosey-nose.
  41. Don’t be a sounding board, or whipping board, for crazy, negative people.
  42. Never forget…where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…
  43. Spend time taking good care of your most significant assets – your body/health, your relationships, your home, your vehicles, and so on.
  44. Smile – doesn’t matter who smiles back. Putting out more love and good energy in the world can only be a good thing.
  45. Avoid bad people as much as possible. If you can cut them out of your life, do so. If you have a crazy, evil, addict neighbor – or someone else distasteful in your life, i.e. a co-worker whom you would never choose to associate with, but have to be exposed to everyday – limit your exposure or ignore them to the extent that you can. A daily dose of evil can only hurt you – ignore it. You’re better than that.
  46. Avoid doing things that make you feel bad about yourself as much as possible.
  47. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
  48. Be optimistic. Positive people rock.
  49. Treat the elderly with respect. If someone is frustrating you by moving slowly or otherwise impeding your path, imagine it’s your grandmother, grandfather, or other beloved elder. Show the same respect and patience you’d show – and want shown — to your own loved ones and family.
  50. Expect to forget things. Write things down. Commit to staying organized.
  51. Commit to learning something new every…day, week, month. Be a lifelong learner. Be curious. Engage in interesting moments and contemplate the relevance or applicability to your life. How can the learning of everyday moments be incorporated into your life in ways that can make you better?
  52. Give compliments.
  53. Say please and thank you.
  54. Hold the door for others behind you.
  55. Drink LOTS of water every day.
  56. Got a great idea. Pursue it. Pursuing talents, dreams, and passions is what your life was meant for.
  57. Don’t give up when the going gets tough. It’s going to be tough nowadays. Start-ups were never easy – and they’re even harder today. The people who innovate, persevere, and hang in there today will rule the world tomorrow.
  58. Spend time in nature as much as possible.
  59. Don’t be afraid of the sun….just wear sunscreen.
  60. Stop texting and driving.
  61. If you meet someone you like and would like to develop a relationship, let them know.
  62. Never stop building your network.
  63. Don’t repeatedly ignore people who reach out to you and then call them when you’re out of work or when you need something. Ever.
  64. Be bold. Be courageous. Don’t base your life, your choices, your actions on what you think other people will think.
  65. Never eat when you’re not hungry.
  66. Incorporate 30 minutes of activity into your every day schedule. How many days should you exercise…Well, how many days do you eat?
  67. Remember, people are what they do…not what they say.
  68. Give thanks every single day for all that you do have. Make gratitude for what is going right in your life – for what you do have—the foundation from which you approach your life. I give thanks for all that I have every single morning upon waking and frequently throughout the day. I learned through my cancer experience last year to take nothing – not a single day – for granted.
  69. Write out your life’s priorities. Create a life “purpose plan” and allow it to guide your priorities, decisions, and choices. If a major decision or choice doesn’t move you toward what you ultimately want, why do it in the first place?
  70. If you can’t change something, learn how to live peacefully with it.
  71. Remember, “luck” goes to the hard workers.
  72. Be a great problem-solver. Think deeply and move toward the solutions that – upon considering them – immediately lighten your load emotionally.
  73. Be a great friend. Be the kind of friend that you’d like to have.
  74. Don’t try to be older than you really are. Relish every age. The sweet times pass quickly.
  75. Find the lesson in everything…and then move on. Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t be a victim. Live in the here and now and create your future moment by moment.
  76. Make sure you choose a vocation that you truly love, that doesn’t feel like work. Love your job. If you don’t, figure out what you do love and get about the business of doing it. Get a foot in the door. Volunteer. Hang your own shingle. Life is too precious to unnecessarily spend it doing something that sucks the life out of you.
  77. Don’t allow anyone to discourage you when you are following your heart and dreams…go for it!
  78. In the midst of the hardest times, tell yourself, this, too, shall pass.
  79. Take time to smell the roses….literally. Breathe deeply the fresh air. Take in the sunset/sunrise. Gaze at the stars. Soak up a sunny, blue sky. Don’t lose your sense of wonder. Listen to the Lee Ann Womack song, I Hope You Dance.
  80. Give yourself a pat on the back, a toast, and “three cheers” when you have even small victories.
  81. Laugh…hard and often.
  82. Give affection, allow yourself to receive affection.
  83. Focus on what you’re good at – and then strive to be very, very good. This brings pride and satisfaction, and helps to eliminate frustration.
  84. Don’t defend or overlook out-of-line, incompetent, or incorrigible behavior. Better to say nothing than to defend or protect evil.
  85. Meditate, meditate, and meditate. Did I mention that you should meditate? Meditate.

Kristi LeBlanc has spent 15 years as a retained executive recruiter with the globe’s largest, most prestigious executive search firms, including Korn/Ferry International where she was a Senior Partner.  She is currently an Executive Vice President with DHR International, a top-5, retained, global executive search firm. She is also the author of  the award-winning, “Living with Certainty: Experience Deep-Soul Joy,” and the creator and President of Living with Certainty™ LLC where she is also corporate keynote speaker and organizational and personal consultant. To learn more visit http://www.Livingwithcertainty.com, http://www.dhrinternational.com/consultants/consultantsviewbio.aspx?consultantid=329, or call Kristi at 303-997-9328.

Life Changes from an Executive Who Now Lives with Certainty

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Here’s an example of someone whose life was transformed when she discovered her purposeful authenticity. A senior vice president of a multi-billion dollar, global company told me that as a child, she had always had a nagging sense of unrest and anxiety, but she distracted herself by being a top student and athlete. She followed in the footsteps of her Ivy-league educated father because she wanted to be able to afford the same lavish lifestyle to which she had grown accustomed. This path was also expected of her so she felt she really had no choice in the matter.

She took great pride in being the ideal daughter, student and now corporate executive. Still, over the years the nagging sense of unrest and anxiety never left her. She diverted her attention by becoming a workaholic. She owned the best cars, clothes, jewelry, and homes — material success and status symbols were of the utmost importance to her. Then one day she was at a week-long corporate retreat when the high-profile author and speaker leading the seminar signaled her out of the crowd and asked her what she stood for and who she was outside of her corporate titles and accomplishments. She found herself at a loss for words. She did not have an answer because she had worked so hard and so fast for so long that her only identity had become that of her title and position within the company.

This one question sent her life into a tailspin as she awakened to the reality that she didn’t know who she was anymore. She did know immediately, however, that she wanted to change her life.

After almost a year of soul-searching, meditation, prayer, examining long-held beliefs and practicing the Law of Attraction, she resigned from corporate America and spent six-months traveling the world. When she returned home, she knew what she needed to do to finally set free, as she put it, the nagging sense of unrest and anxiety that she had experienced her entire life.

Her greatest gift in life is oil painting — her vivid recreations of her family members and seascapes were her life’s proudest accomplishments.  As a child, while her artistic abilities were appreciated, they were not encouraged as a proper career. She decided that she was finally going to live a life that allowed her to share and express this innate artistic ability. Today she has a booming business and gallery in which the focus of her artwork is primarily children, families, and seascapes. Looking back at her accomplished corporate career, she says that she never once experienced the authenticity, depth, fulfillment and involvedness that she now experiences every day. She knows that part of the angst she experienced throughout her life was caused by her soul aching for this missing dimension. She now knows the profound depth and meaning of deep-soul joy.

The Seven Deadly Sins: Have Our Manners and Civility Always Been This Bad?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

As an executive recruiter, I have interacted over the years with so many bright people who were woefully lacking in self-awareness – and yet they had no idea that this was a deficiency of theirs.  They would be shocked after interviews when they received client feedback that was anything other than glowing.  A lack of self-awareness — and a glut of self-importance – seems to be a virus ravaging its way around the globe.  I talk to so many people each week who maintain that civility and manners are at an all-time low.  This may be true, but civility, manners, and self-awareness have always, or at least for centuries, been a struggle for humans.

The Root of All Misdeeds and Transgressions
You likely have heard of the “seven deadly sins,” also referred to as cardinal sins which were thought to be at the root of all misdeeds and transgressions.  They are a categorization of vices that were originally used in early Christian teachings to educate and instruct followers concerning fallen man’s tendency to sin.  I include mention of them here because it is the attitudes underlying the seven deadly sins that provide a lens thru which we can view our own faults and subsequent actions, thereby providing a framework for much-needed self-awareness, a key aspect of living with certainty.

Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride
In the 6th Century AD, the sins were categorized by Pope Gregory the Great as lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Each of the seven deadly sins had a corresponding virtue – lust: chastity, gluttony: temperance, greed: charity, sloth: diligence, wrath: patience, envy: kindness and pride: humility.  These original sins were thought to begin in your heart and color your intentions.  Mohandas Gandhi highlighted the seven deadly sins in this way:  Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality and worship without sacrifice – the polar opposites of living with certainty.

The Single Greatest Cause of Atheism…
In the 21st Century, Pope Benedict XVI pronounced that we are losing our notion of sin.  Quite frankly, he is right.  I think the Grammy-winning Christian music trio, dc Talk, put it best when they said, “The greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny it by their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Today’s American culture promotes pride and defends ego; encourages overconsumption and gluttony; advertisers encourage envy; and the depiction of lust is far too prevalent in TV, film and advertising. While I am not suggesting that a modicum of sloth and gluttony wouldn’t from time to time be a delightful change of pace for those of us who are far too busy and disciplined, there is real truth to Pope Benedict XVI’s statement.

Dishonesty, Greed and Laziness, Among Other Sins, Are Not in Harmony with the Universe
The consequence of past and present individual sin in our world has clearly affected the Whole.  The natural way of the universe is to seek perfect balance and harmony like a properly functioning ecosystem, an interdependent community of living organisms such as plants, animals and smaller organisms with their non-living environment that work together and create a complex system of interaction which is a stable home for life.  However, dishonesty, greed and laziness, among other sins, are not in harmony with the universe.  These negative traits and behaviors take more than they give, limiting our abilities to develop our purposeful authenticity and to live with love and compassion.  They also create static and imbalance in your life through their failure to generate harmonic energy. 

Strive for a Life of Inspiration
As such, you cannot align with the flow of your spiritual power frequency or the goodness of the universe; you are out of sync.  And this is the key to remaining connected to your spiritual power frequency.  The bottom line is that we have to be self-aware enough to know how our demeanor and actions are affecting our lives and the lives of those around us. We also have to know what we want and how we’re going to get there. Living a life of inspiration through an evolved level of consciousness allows you to revel in the deep-soul joy-laden journey that is your life rather than struggling toward a nebulous destination that you have arbitrarily labeled “happiness.”  The joy and fulfillment experienced through the living with certainty lifestyle can be likened to the difference between living your life in black and white versus full-color high-definition.  Living with Certainty is intended to put you on a mind and soul-opening trajectory that ultimately will lead you to deep-soul joy which is naturally attained when we experience our spiritual and Earthly, day-to-day lives in alignment with one another.  

If we all lived this way, civility, good manners, compassion, and love, just for starters, would multiple exponentially across the globe .