The Leadership Series Part 2.75: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership

The Leadership Psychology and Sociology of Hearing and Seeing

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Alright, so we’ve now completed, The Leadership Series Part 2: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership, and, The Leadership Series Part 2.5: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership. This installment, then, is the last installment of part 2.

It’s what happens when cool insights occur. Let’s reset shall we? Real quick. Here we go.

In the first installment of part 2 of the leadership series, we discussed thinking and feeling, and why understanding how we think and feel matters to our development as a leader.

And, then in the second installment of part 2 of the leadership series, we discussed speaking and acting, and why understanding how we speak and act is also important to our development as a leader.

In this, yes, promise, the final installment of part 2?

We will discuss hearing and seeing. How we hear, and how we see, are just as important as how we think, feel, speak, and act. And, that was the insight I had a couple of weeks ago. So, let’s go.

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Hearing

As we develop ourselves as a leader, we hear more things. Things we would not have heard before. Subtleties in someone’s voice for example, the tone and affect, their word choices, how they use them, and the words they didn’t choose to use.

Factually, we all have different vocabularies. Meaning, no two people know all of the exact same words, or how to use them, or use them in the same way. However, listening for how people use their language is important. How people use language, will provide you more information about that person.

What are some strategies you can employ to hear, or listen more intently and retain that information? Sure. Here are a couple.

  • Be present – one of the most important tools a leader, nay, any human being, can develop is learning how to be present. Being present means that all of your attention is on whatever context you find yourself in. For instance, you are not multitasking, or thinking about other things that need your attention. Being present is a gift to ourselves first, and then to everyone we know. In the article, What Does Being Present Really Mean, and Why Does it Matter?, I write about some of the strategies I use to ensure I stay present.
  • Listenactive listening is a learned skill. Meaning, it takes practice, just like all things. When we are actively listening we are present, and are engaged with the information the person is sharing. Of course, this means we are not planning a response in advance. We are rather, just being with that person and what they are sharing, providing them meaningful feedback and questions so we can learn all they have to share with us.
  • Take notes – I always take notes when I am in a meeting, or have someone that does. I only take down those things I need to remember. It is important to not get lost in note taking, which can happen. You need to capture important aspects of the conversation, dates or definitions maybe, or, maybe a question arises, which is usually the case with me, and it’s not an appropriate time to ask it. You can write it down real quick, and then ask the question at the appropriate time.

There we go. There are many other strategies you can employ to ensure you are hearing as much as possible. Yet these three I use daily, all day in fact, and they work well.

Okay, now let’s talk a little about seeing.

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Seeing

What can I write about sight? Well, that as we develop as leaders, nay, as human beings, we develop more sight. Just like we feel, think, speak, act, and hear, we see more, see differently. It is a wonder, really.

Because I am a hyper-visual learner, I see a lot more, and then? Well, I always document it somehow, and then sometimes what I see is used, and sometimes it’s not. It matters less that what you are seeing is utilized, than it is that the possibility is created to utilize this new information in meaningful ways.

Here are some strategies I use to capture what I see.

  • Whiteboards – as I’ve written about before, whiteboards are a highly effective tool, especially for visual learners. I have three whiteboards at home, and many at work, including two white board walls in my office. Here is my simple whiteboard process.
    • Write out, sometimes it is linear, sometimes nonlinear, that which I’ve seen recently. Whatever insight that might be.
    • Let it sit for a day or two and reflect upon it. Sometimes I will add to the insight, sometimes not.
    • Take a picture of the whiteboard for later use.
    • If the insight is usable, put it into action in my life.
  • Journaling – a very effective strategy for capturing new ideas. Developing a pattern for your journaling is super helpful. I usually journal at the end of the day. Some people, however, like to do so in the morning. Timing matters less, than creating the time to journal when you can.
  • Post-its – as crazy as it may seem, post-its work very well when you are busy. I use them all the time, and then transfer them into my other organizational tools.
  • Graphics software – I’ve also been recently using venngage to take the new insight’s I’ve had, and transfer them into a cool visual for myself and the team. Super useful.

Alright, there are a few strategies I use to capture all that I see. And, I do capture just about all of it. There are times when an insight I’ve seen slips through my fingers, yet, when that occurs, I know that if it was needed, it will come back.

Closing Part 2

In closing part 2 of the leadership series, I would like to leave you with the consideration that both leadership psychology and sociology, as we’ve discussed them here, are both needed as we develop ourselves as leaders.

Understanding how we feel, think, speak, act, hear, and see, starts with us. Being more self-aware of who we are as, yes, a leader, and more importantly, as a human being.

The more we understand ourselves, the more we understand the people around us, both at work and at home.

And, when we are intune with ourselves and the people around us, we can create the possibility of more movement for ourselves, yes, and our teams and families. And, then? Well, with movement, comes traction.

When we get to traction with ourselves, and our teams and families, we get back so much more. It is quite amazing actually to reflect upon all that I get back. Absolutely amazing and quite beautiful.

Remember, it all starts with us. All that we think, feel, speak, act, hear, and see.

#activelistening, #beingpresent, #leadershipdevelopment, #listening, #seeing, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #sight, #takingnotes, #vision

My One Thing: Creating Alignment in Our Lives

How You Can Create Alignment Between Your Personal and Professional Lives, and Create a Life Part 1

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In November of 2019, I went to a Nationwide Conference for practitioners of non credit education. There was a lot of valuable information at this conference, and a few book recommendations. I read often, so taking on more reading, with an already long list, is not something I do often, yet the book, The One Thing, caught my attention.

The book caught my attention, as everyone, professionally, yes, and even personally, have lots of things they want to accomplish. And, sometimes, when we have too many goals, we are unable to concentrate and move anything forward.

The basic premise of the book is to focus on that one thing that will move you forward, either personally or professionally, and let go of the rest. Yes, yes, easier said than done.

However, it got me thinking about a new series, where the goal will be to convey the one thing I’m focused on that day, week, month, quarter, or even year. And, then?

Well, most importantly, what I’m learning. Where have the obstacles been, and how did I get around them, or how did I let go as needed.

I think it will be fun, and if you find it interesting and educational, I’ll keep it going. What’s first? Good question.

One that is part of my work of the year. I would even go so far as to say it is my one thing this coming year. What’s that?

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Creating Alignment

Alright, so I’ve now been in my current work position for 3.5 years, and, in that time, there has been much change. Some created internally, and some, as we’ve all experienced, created externally.

However, the change is created, the important takeaway?

Change always comes. It is part of life. An unavoidable part, as much as some people would like to remove themselves from change as often as possible. And?

I understand. Change is difficult. Yet, there is a paradox here. What’s that? Change is also beautiful. Truth.

In addition to being in my current role at the community college for 3.5 years, I also developed myself during that time, both personally, and, yes, professionally. And, the more I develop, the more I see alignment between all aspects of my life. All of them.

And, that, quite frankly is just simple fun. Many people, as I once did, create a distinction between their personal and professional lives. These distinctions, however, can leave people feeling frayed and stressed when Monday, or the first day of their work week, rolls around. This does not need to be the case.

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However, it takes time to get to a place where you can see alignment in all that you do. I’ve been working on it for 3.5 years; and, I’m closer, yet still have work to do. And, that’s okay, for it’s in the work we do in life, whether personal or professional, where the experience of life lives. And, that’s being alive.

Now, what tools have I used to create alignment between both my personal and professional lives. Good questions. Let’s take a look.

  • Vision – as I’ve written about before, having a vision, or declaring a purpose for your life, both personally and professionally is a key ingredient in creating alignment between your work life and your home life. Here are a few that I’ve used over the years.
    • To increase access to higher education for everyone.
    • To increase access to higher education for everyone by making leadership development, creativity, inspiration, and personal transformation available to every business, employee, and community member.
    • I live to create new access points to education and knowledge, and part of those access points is dissemination in print and in collaborative contexts, such as leadership and coaching individuals, teams, and organizations.
    • Develop, Inspire, and Transform.

Alright, that should do. As we can see there are definite similarities and dissimilarities between these visions. Still a work in progress. Yet, the fun part about creating a vision, or purpose, or mission statement, is seeing your vision iterate over time. Super fun, innovative, and expansive.

  • Goal-setting – as I’ve written about before, having tangible goals that live inside of our visions is of utmost importance. If you don’t have goals, you will not create movement on your vision. Here are some of the goals I’ve created for both my personal and professional self.
    • Pull community members and business leaders to us by providing them the why.
    • Create new relationships with community members and business leaders.
    • Priorities that are tied to the vision and mission.
    • Continue to improve and document all processes.
    • Publish a novel.
    • Increase my fluency in Spanish.
    • Travel to Spain.

Now, we can see how there is alignment, and, maybe, non-alignment between the goals and the visions. For the purposes of our discussion that matters less, than that there are goals declared. For it is in the declaring of goals, and setting our intention, that there will be movement in an area, that movement then becomes possible.

Funnily enough, sometimes you can set a goal, and totally forget about it, and you will still see movement in that area of your life if you pay attention. Why? Because you’ve set your intention that something be so, that you want to create movement in an area of your life. Intention is powerful.

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Alright, that’s all for this installment of the One Thing on creating alignment. In the next entry in the One Thing, Creating Alignment, we will look at how to take out goals, and create clear, and sometimes not so clear, objectives and priorities. Why is this important?

You can think about creating alignment, starting with a vision, as part of a larger process, which is like starting at the top of a funnel, and working your way down to the actions you take every day.

Because creating alignment is a part of my work of the year, it will take a couple entries to complete. However, as I’ve mentioned, this series will be an exploration of my One Thing, sometimes, of the day, week, month, quarter, and, yes, year, which is where we are starting.

I’m already thinking about a One Thing entry on baking. Hm. How fun would that be?

Remember, creating a One Thing simply means developing the ability to focus and create action around a vision or purpose we’ve intentionally created for ourselves. And, that vision might be for the day, the week, the month, quarter, or year.

It’s a paradox. In one way we can say it’s less about the timeframe and more about the focus you create on that which you want to manifest for yourself.

And, on the other, we can say, timing matters, as the more alignment we create between our personal and professional lives over time, the less of a distinction between these two realms there is; which I can say from personal experience is pretty powerful.

#creating-alignment, #creatinggoals, #creatingvision, #goal-setting, #huamndevelopment, #intention, #leadership, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #theonething, #thepowerofintention

The Reflection Series Part 6: Why is Creating Safety Important?

A 3-minute Reflection on 4 Things Every Leader Can Do to Create Safety on Teams

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Well, we are 9-months into a pandemic, actually much more than 9-months, yet, here locally, 9-months ago was when the restrictions started. And?

I’ve been thinking about and reflecting upon just how important creating safety on teams is all the time; and, now? Even more important.

Developing safety within a team creates a context where possibilities abound. Meaning, when people feel safe, there is trust, and where there is trust, well, anything is possible. Seriously. Anything. And, now?

Living inside the pandemic for the past 9-months has been unsettling in many ways. Though I’ve written about, and we’ve discussed many times before, how much more there is to know and learn, than is known.

It is equally true that when the foundation of someone’s belief system is shaken, it can be really hard, and can make people begin to question what they thought they knew about how the world works.

Meaning that for some people, they already know there is much more to know than they know, and now what they thought they knew has been up-ended. Hard.

Right, so what can we do? How can we make sure to continue to create safety on teams so people feel like they have solid ground to stand on? Good questions. Let’s take a look at 4 ways we can do just that.

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Reality

Have you ever heard about managing the real and ideal? Yes, no? Either way, it simply means that when in a leadership role it is important to always strive for an ideal, think vision, while being very clear on the current reality.

Basically you are managing the tension between what is and what you are creating. Super important. Why?

Because even though the current reality might be hard to hear, people need confirmation that what they are seeing, thinking, and feeling is accurate. The very last thing they need is false hope. Nope. They need reality.

When you stand in the current reality, there is workability. Why? Because when you are clear and the team is clear, you can continue to create the ideal free from the distraction, what if.

You will get more focus, concentration, and organization when you are clear on the current reality while continuing to create the ideal future state. More focus, concentration, and organization from yourself and the team.

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Listen

We all know how important it is to listen. Very important. There might not be a more important leadership skill. Seriously. This is especially true when times are stressful.

People need someone they can come to, someone they can depend upon. Someone that is going to be present, listen, and give honest feedback. They need that, their team members need that, and, as the leader, you need that. From? From each of them. Yep.

There is immense power in being present and being an active listener.

Active listening simply means being mindful in your conversations. Be present, pay attention, empathize, and use your conversational skills to really understand, take in, and respond in kind to the person you are talking to. Important.

You will get much more back when you practice and coach people to practice active listening. More for yourself, for your teammates, and the entire team. When people really listen, they know what’s going on with their teammates, which makes for a much more productive work environment.

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Collaborate

When the team understands the current reality and the ideal state you are creating, is practicing active listening, the likelihood for collaboration increases. Why?

Because when people feel comfortable, are able to focus, and know how their teammates feel and what they think, they are immediately more approachable. And, when we are more approachable, collaboration is just easier.

And, what do you get when your team is able to collaborate more effectively? Yep. Innovation.

When your team works together, there is a synergy that occurs, and inside of that synergy, you get ideas that take the team further. You don’t get these types of synergistic innovations from silos. Just doesn’t happen.

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Action

Of course, you cannot create an ideal reality from a very clearly defined current reality without taking action. Nope. Not possible.

Actually, the coolest thing about creating an ideal, and generating all of the innovative ideas, is seeing them executed upon. Amazing. It is one of the things I love the most about working on teams.

Yep, it is so much fun to create, and, yes, I am very creative. Yet, it is equally beautiful and fun to watch the transformation of what can be months of innovative work into a new system, process, program, training, or class. Really.

Wow, that was fun.

Alright, remember, creating safety on teams is a powerful leadership skill. Truly.

As we discussed, creating safety ensures that people can feel comfortable in the current reality, even a very stressful one, while continuing to strive for the ideal reality.

Practicing and modeling active listening also fosters safety by creating a context of respect and mindfulness, while collaboration and taking action ensures that the bridge between innovation and execution is clearly articulated and navigated.

And, when the bridge between innovation and execution is clear and ideas are being executed upon, the team will feel a sense of accomplishment, which increases the team’s morale and feelings of security and safety.

Creating safety on teams may be one of the most important things a leader can do, especially during times that are more stressful and unknown. The ability for everyone to feel safe is that important.

#activelistening, #collaboration, #covid-19, #creatingsafety, #currentreality, #humandwevelopment, #idealreality, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #listen, #pandemic, #safeteams, #selfdevelopment, #takingaction, #teamdevelopment, #vision

A Developmental Moment #2: The 3 C’s of Authentic Productivity

3 Reasons Why Being Authentic Will Increase Your Productivity

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A few months ago I wrote the article, The Reflection Series Part 2: What Does it Mean to Live an Authentic Life?, where we discussed living an authentic life. The basic premise being how living an authentic life is an empowering experience.

Now, in this article, we will discuss how we can increase our productivity by simply being the human being we know ourselves to be. Yep. Ready? Good here. we go.

Have you ever seen behind the scenes of a theatrical production? Yes, no? Well, either way, there is a ton of work that goes into creating a stage production, even a small production at a local high-school.

I remember taking, what was then called stagecraft, in high-school, and that was our job. Creating the stage, or, in sociological terms, creating the visual context for the play. Was great fun.

Erving Goffman, an American-Canadian Sociologist from the 1950’s, talks about life in terms of a play. Noting that we all take on particular personas based on socialization, yes, the context we are working or living in, and the ideas we have about who we are, and, yep, the ideas we believe others hold of us. Phew. That’s a lot of information to hold, which, hint, hint, is part of the point of this article.

I digress, back on track. Here is a short, well, relatively short, synopsis of what Goffman terms dramaturgy.

Dramaturgy is a sociological perspective that is a component of symbolic interactionism and is used in sociological analysis of everyday life. Developed by American sociologist Erving Goffman in his seminal 1959 text The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, dramaturgy uses the metaphor of theater to explain human behavior. According to this perspective, individuals perform actions in everyday life as if they were performers on a stage. Identity is performed through roles. Here, the term “role” works in two ways, referencing both the name for a theatrical character and the ways in which individuals fill roles in reality by acting as a mother, friend, husband, etc. Dramaturgy argues that the presentation of oneself through role is a way of engaging with society.

Social Science

Alright, now, you may be asking, okay, and?

Well, think about all of the roles you take on each day. Seriously. Count them real quick. Here, I’ll do it too. I came up with 7. And, that was just a quick inquiry. A more focused inquiry would reveal many, many, more. And, you? How many did you come up with? Yep. Good.

Now, with all of these roles, and what I will now term performances, how much preparation do you do to create, deliver, and sustain these performances? Hm. Quite a bit, I bet. And, time? Yep, preparation is time. And time is energy.

Alright, so we spend a lot of time backstage, in Goffman terms, preparing for our individual performances, even when we are unaware. Yep. And, then frontstage, delivering them? Exactly. We spend a lot of energy there too. True.

And, now, let’s add in being inauthentic. If we are, let us say, working even harder on our performances, because we believe we need to look, act, and behave a certain way, either because we feel we should, or, we feel that others expect that of us, that is even more tiring. Phew. That’s a lot of tiring. Yet, there is another way. How?

By being authentic. And, guess what? Yep. When we are authentic, we save energy.

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Authenticity and Productivity

When we are authentic, we save energy because, quite simply, we work less hard trying to convince ourselves and everyone around us that we are someone we’re not. As we’ve already seen, it takes a lot of time and energy just to perform our various roles, which does not include trying to perform them in ways we think we are supposed to.

Further, we all have a limited amount of energy to utilize throughout our day. We can think about our day in terms of exchanging units of energy for each task, project, or activity we take on.

As we exchange our units of energy, our stores become depleted. Now, we can recharge these energy stores by doing various things, such as taking a walk or sitting and breathing for a couple of minutes.

However, we should also covet these energy stores by being aware of our energy levels throughout the day. And? Well, when we are continuously thinking about our performances, our energy is depleted at a faster rate. Why?

Because we are distracted with thoughts and mentalizations that make the work we are engaged with more arduous. Pretty simple.

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However, when we aren’t concerned about our performances, meaning we are being authentic and true to the person we know ourselves to be, our energy is saved from tasks such as worrying and overthinking. Important.

And, when we save our energy we can be more productive.

Alright, here then are three productivity byproducts that come from being authentic. Being who we really are. Just for fun, we will call these the 3 C’s of Authentic Productivity.

  • Capacity – when we are authentic, we have more energy for the aforementioned reasons, and we also have more capacity. More capacity to do the work we need to do, free from the constraints of spending time and energy concentrating on performing in ways that we think we are supposed to, or we think others expect us to.
  • Concentration – when we are authentic, we are also able to concentrate more easily. Our minds are not busy fretting about our performance. For instance, wondering what someone thinks about what we just said, or how we are acting in a particular context. When we are free from these mentalizations, we are much more clear.
  • Clarity – and, yes, when we have more capacity to concentrate on the work at hand, we are also more clear. We have more clarity in general about all things, and are able to complete tasks and projects with much greater efficiency and effectiveness.

There is one more bonus to being authentic. Insight.

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When we have more capacity, are able to concentrate more effectively, and have more clarity, we create the possibility of receiving more insights. Insights occur when our minds are quiet. When we are quiet.

And, we are much more quiet when we are not in a continuous internal battle about who we are. When we are authentic, this battle drops away, and insights come more frequently.

Wow, that was fun.

Alright, that’s the 3 C’s of Authentic Productivity. Know there are many more benefits to being authentic. Seriously. Many more.

Pretty much everything we do, we do more effectively and efficiently when we are authentic. As we’ve seen in our discussion, worrying about our performances depletes our energy levels.

However, when we are authentic, we save our energy, and in doing so increase our capacity, ability to concentrate, and overall clarity.

You are already just as you are supposed to be. So be who you are, be authentic, embrace yourself, and enjoy each moment of every day.

Oh, yes, and, remember, when you do so, you’ll also enjoy more insights along the way. And, believe me, that’s super fun.

#authenticity, #authenticityandproductivity, #capacity, #clarity, #concentration, #energy, #humandevelopment, #insight, #leadership, #productivity, #selfawareness, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement

A Developmental Moment #1: Inspiration

How Inspiration Relates to Our Personal and Professional Development

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In the article, The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?, we discussed several leadership characteristics. And, it is these characteristics, which, by the way, are applicable to every aspect of our lives, that we will cover, one at a time, in this new series. Where to start? Let’s see.

Well, let’s start with this past week’s reflections, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Alright, so this past week, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon inspiration. What is inspiration, where does it come from, how can we get more of it, and what do we do if we run out of it. Very important questions. And?

Well, this week I’ve also been reflecting upon the creation of a new series. A series that can encompass a multitude of topics, and, yep, this is it, and inspiration will be the first topic.

Some of these developmental discussions will be longer, and some will be shorter. It will depend.

Alright, for this entry, let’s tackle the first question on inspiration. Ready? Good. Let’s go.

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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

I really do love this topic, as it seems so simple, right? Inspiration, well, it’s all around us. Some people say they find nature inspirational, or other people in their lives, such as their friends and family, or coworkers. And, that is beautiful. Truely. Yet, there is something missing here. Do you know what it is? Hm.

It is the viewpoint. Meaning?

That inspiration does not live outside of you. Nope. It lives inside of you. We look outward and place inspiration onto other things and people, yet that inspiration comes from within. Always has come from within, and always will come from within.

Why does this matter to your development? Good question. Here is one, of many, reasons why.

  1. When we know inspiration comes from within, we stop looking outside of ourselves for our own inspiration. Being aware of the source of our inspiration is important to our development, because when we fully realize that our inspiration comes from within, we are not bound to the changing tides of people and things. Simple. And?
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Well, we know that change is inevitable. It is part of life. Yep. And, when we get clear on the fact that inspiration does not live in the changing world, that, in fact, it can be developed, and maintained, regardless of external circumstances, we become more powerful. Really.

Does that mean that we don’t ever feel down, or stressed, or sad? No, it does not. We are meant to feel all of our emotions; to feel them, know them, and learn how to talk about them.

And, yet, we can still find our inspiration even during the most stressful times. Why? Because even though we may consider a situation stressful, we know that our inspiration is always there. Waiting for us.

Alright, so what can we do to connect, or reconnect, to our own inspiration? I think there is one thing we can all do that will assist in making our connection, or reconnection, to our inspiration stronger. What’s that?

  1. Make time for yourself. A must.

When we create time for ourselves, to be with ourselves, just for ourselves, we get to know ourselves better. And, the more we know ourselves, the more clear on our own inspiration we become. Really.

Next time, then, when things are really hectic, and you are feeling overwhelmed, stop. Stop doing what you are doing, and go for a walk, sit down under a tree and look around, or look up at the beautiful stars in the sky. Stop and just be.

For it is in this space, where your inspiration will find you.

#clarity, #compassion, #connection, #contemplation, #emotionalintelligence, #emotions, #inspiration, #leadershipdevelopment, #meditation, #mindfulness, #overwhelm, #personal-development, #professionaldevelopment, #reflection, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement

Vulnerability in Action: Three New Ways to Think About Vulnerability

Vulnerability as an Active Way to Grow, Understand, and Feel Alive

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About two months ago, I wrote three of four different articles on vulnerability. I was, obviously, at that time, very present to the impact vulnerability can have on my life, our lives.

I think this is especially so when we are aware of and think about vulnerability a little bit differently. And?

Well, then this morning, I had another insight. Hence this new article. Let’s take a look at vulnerability once more, and from a new vantage point. Ready? Good.

vulnerability

noun  /ˌvʌlnərəˈbɪləti/ /ˌvʌlnərəˈbɪləti/[uncountable]

vulnerability (of somebody/something) (to something) the fact of being weak and easily hurt physically or emotionally

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Alright. Now, as I’ve written before, I understand why vulnerability is defined as it is, yet I see and experience vulnerability completely differently today.

Let’s explore three of the ways I experience vulnerability in this article. Ultimately, I believe, vulnerability leads us to new possibilities. New ways of being. Bottom line. Truly. And, here are three reasons why.

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Vulnerability as Growth

When we enter into situations or create contexts that are vulnerable, we are instantaneously navigating a space that is full of growth opportunities.

Being vulnerable is about growing. In fact, growth is impossible without the ability to be vulnerable. Why?

Because it is in the areas that we fear to go most that our largest measure of growth awaits us. Truly. And?

That growth potential already exists within you. It is there. Awaiting you. Now, you can leave it there, if you choose.

There is absolutely no issue with not practicing vulnerability, and it is not a problem at all. However, to really be alive, to feel alive in every aspect of your being, you must allow yourself at times to be vulnerable, and to grow as a result of that vulnerability.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to take up every vulnerable situation, or continuously create vulnerable contexts for yourself to grow. Really.

Rather, being mindful about vulnerability simply means taking a vulnerable step. One at a time.

I think sometimes people think it is an all or nothing proposal, or approach to vulnerability they must choose from. You must be vulnerable all the time to grow, all day everyday. Not so. That is daunting, and, well, impractical and quite scary. Nope.

If you are looking to add more vulnerability into your life as a way to grow yourself, take one step at a time. One vulnerable moment at a time. And?

Before long you will find that you are adding another vulnerable moment to the previous one; and that my friends is growing.

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Vulnerability as Understanding

When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we also gain a much deeper understanding of ourselves. And, as we learn more about ourselves, we also learn more about everyone around us, and all of humanity. Why?

Because to be vulnerable means to feel things that we’ve resisted or avoided feeling. For instance, to feel and be with the fear or anxiety we have about doing something or talking to someone.

When we face those fears, step into them, and work through them, we learn. And, inside of that learning, we get to know more about how our minds work, how our feelings work.

And, as we learn more about our own mind and emotions, we can readily understand how other people think and feel that much more.

There is a measure of grace and compassion that grows within you as you practice your own vulnerability. Really.

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Vulnerability as Active

Though vulnerability is labeled a noun, I see it as a verb. I do believe that being vulnerable is about being active. Taking action in our own lives, entering into situations that stretch us, and creating contexts where we can grow.

Again, though I see vulnerability as active, we create those actions and can choose when and how often we practice our own vulnerability.

The notion that vulnerability is about weakness in any area is an outdated concept, both psychologically and sociologically.

What is known psychologically is that the brain is very plastic, flexible. Meaning, that throughout life we have the ability to create new brain patterns, which are simply manifestations of new habits. Seriously.

Yes, you can change your brain patterns by creating new habits. Yep. In fact, you can argue, as would I, that creating new habits is a practice in vulnerability.

In fact, we could say that vulnerability, the act of being vulnerable in situations we know little about so we can learn and grow, is creating a new brain pattern.

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Yep. And, as you continue to take those vulnerable actions, that brain pattern, or groove in the brain becomes deeper.

Which is why as you practice being vulnerable it becomes easier, or, rather, you become more comfortable doing something that is, and can be quite uncomfortable.

And, sociologically, we know that as we practice vulnerability with others, we gain a new understanding of who they are as human beings. Which from a sociological perspective is very important.

The more we understand each other, the better we communicate and relate to each other; both of which are very important sociological concepts.

Alright. Well, that was so much fun, I might create a series out of the topic of vulnerability. We will see.

Please remember, being vulnerable and practicing vulnerability is about growth, understanding, and being in action in life. And, guess what? Like everything in life you create, you also create when you want to be and or how often you practice vulnerability. And?

No matter what you choose that’s just fine. You are whole and complete just as you are.

Practicing vulnerability is not about changing who we are; being vulnerable and practicing vulnerability is about experiencing life in all of it’s pains and pleasures. Because in the end, both pain and pleasure are about being alive.

#active, #beingalive, #feelingalive, #growth, #humandevelopment, #mindfulness, #psychology, #selfdevelopment, #sociology, #understanding, #vulnerability, #vulnerabilityasactive, #vulnerabilityasalive, #vulnerabilityasunderstanding, #vulnerablityasgrowth

The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?

Leadership As A Part of Everyday Life

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I am always thinking about, learning about, and practicing leadership. Really. Always. It is such an important concept and practice. Yes, professionally, and even more importantly, for me, in every aspect of my life.

Why?

Well, that’s what we’ll look at in this new series. There are so many questions to look at and discuss when it comes to leadership. Seriously. So many. Here are just a couple.

  • Why is leadership such an important concept?
  • Why is it so important to practice?
  • Why is it important to understand?
  • What are the types of leadership?
  • Why are there so many types?
  • What’s the right type for me?
  • How do I become a leader?

And? Oh, there are so many more.

Alright, in this first article, we are going to unpack leadership as a concept and practice. Ready? Great. Let’s get started by defining leadership. Yep. here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

See synonyms for leadership

Translate leadership into Spanish

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

The leaders of an organization, country, etc.

Lexico

Okay. Here we see that leadership is identified with leading a group of people or organization or being in a leadership position.

Yet, what does that really mean?

Before we get to that question, let’s try one more definition. The definitions are all a little different. Here we go.

leadership

noun US  /ˈliː.dɚ.ʃɪp/ UK  /ˈliː.də.ʃɪp/

the set of characteristics that make a good leader

the position or fact of being the leader

Cambridge Dictionary

Alright, we now have an additional concept in this new definition. Leadership in this definition is also associated with a particular set of characteristics. Yet, which ones? Hm. Confusing.

And, now?

Well, let’s assuage some of our confusion by unpacking these definitions, shall we? Good. Here we go.

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Leadership as Leading People

Right, so leading people. Yes, yes, that is a part of leadership. Or, as I usually like to write, one piece of a whole. The whole you ask? Good question.

The whole of leadership as a principle and practice is a system. And, like all systems, it starts with each of us. The way we think and feel about leadership; our hopes, dreams, goals, and objectives. Yep, all of them.

In fact, all leadership starts with leading oneself. What does that mean?

It means that the way we treat ourselves, the principles and values we believe in, and the way we practice those principles and values are exactly how we lead.

Some people think that you can lead your life at home one way, and then lead your life at work in another way. Not so. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.

How you lead at home is the same as the way you lead at work. They are one.

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Some of you right now might be thinking, as I once did, that’s not true; I have a set of values at home and a different set of values at work.

However, I am inviting you to consider that, in fact, believing that we hold different values at home than we hold at work is mere confusion. And?

That confusion will seep out into all that we do.

We can call that discord. And, that discord will confuse you, yes, and everyone else around you. Really. And, with confusion comes tension, disagreement, and disengagement.

The soultion?

Well, getting clear on your principles and values is a start. As is understanding why you treat yourself as you do; meaning, creating an awareness of yourself for yourself. Important. Then?

Let go of the principles and values that no longer serve you, and create new ones. We are creative beings first, and leaders second. All of us. Create symmetry between the self you are at home and the self you are at work.

You are one person after all. Create the leader you know yourself to be. One step at a time. Then?

Creating leadership symmetry

  1. What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
  2. What do you value and why?
  3. Why are you the person you are today?
  4. Why do you do what you do?

And, then?

Create symmetry between your personal life and your professional life. As was aforementioned, they are one and the same anyway. Time to connect the two. There is tremendous power in this conceptual and practical example. And, then?

Well, with symmetry and practice, you will lead people. And, you will lead them from a space that is centered and clear on what you intend to create.

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Leadership as a Position

Leadership is not a position. Director, supervisor, and manager are a position, or even better yet, are a title.

Leadership is a philosophy and a practical way you live your life. Every aspect of your life in fact. If you think about leadership as a position, then?

You will create separateness between leadership and other aspects of your life. And, as we’ve just discussed, that leads to confusion and disengagement. You from yourself, and your team from you.

It is inevitable. People know when we are genuine and authentic. They can feel it, they can see it, and they can hear it. Simple.

One of the reasons people struggle in leadership is they are not clear on who they are as a human being. Listen, it’s not a demerit. I once had this same issue, and?

It’s hard. Very hard.

When you are not clear on who you are, how can you be clear on who your team is? You cannot. It’s just not possible. What is possible?

Get clear on you

  • Why are you a leader?
  • What do you value in leadership?
  • What types of leadership do you associate yourself with?
  • What kinds of impact do you want to make in this world?
  • What change do you want to create?

I could go on. Well, and we will, in future posts. For now, know that there are two things at this stage that are critical.

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

And, we will cover both of these topics in the next two articles. Now, let’s take a look at leadership as characteristics.

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Leadership as Characteristics

There are many places to look for and find lists, articles, even whole books on leadership characteristics. And?

Well, it is important to understand these characteristics, yet it is just as important to understand that these characteristics are a product of what leaders believe and think, and how they act.

Meaning, that understanding characteristics are only as good as actually developing a relationship with yourself, and understanding how that relationship will translate into your personal leadership style.

Here are a few leadership characteristics I think are pretty important.

  • Authenticity
  • Inspiration
  • Vulnerability
  • Influence
  • Clarity
  • Vision
  • Grit
  • Determination
  • Perseverance
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Self-awareness
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Passion

Know there are many more. These are the ones I’m most present to now, and the ones that I’m always present to actually.

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Leadership as Life

I prefer to think about and practice leadership as another part of my life. A very important part of my life. Really.

If we think about leadership in regard to taking care of and leading ourselves through life, and then expand that to include the other people in our lives, it’s very important.

Let’s close this first installment with a few quotes, shall we? Good. Here we go.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Benchmark

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Benchmark

“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.” – Lao Tzu

Benchmark

There we go.

Inspiration is an important part of leadership. And? Well, the leader must first find their inspiration, as we’ve discussed, and, then? It will go out to everyone else. Fun.

Ah, yes, collaboration is such an important leadership characteristic. Difficult, and yet so much fun and so worth the process.

I am fond of saying to the team I work on something like, you know we chose to institute the collaborative model we use today. It’s not the easiest way to do things, yet we believe it is the best way.

Lao Tzu makes a lovely point here about influence. When a team is rallied around a common purpose or goal, it is infectious, and it is as if the leader simply disappears. In fact, each person on the team, in their own way, becomes a leader. Beautiful.

Alright, we’ve made it to the conclusion of the first entry into this new series on leadership. And, I am excited about continuing it with you.

In the next installment, we will take a look at leadership from the perspective of the self. It is, as we’ve discussed, where everything starts.

And, it is exactly where we will start again next time.

#clarity, #collaboration, #helenkeller, #influence, #inspiration, #johnadams, #laotzu, #leadership, #leadershipasasystem, #leadershipaslife, #leadershipconcepts, #leadershipdefined, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipquestions, #leadershipsymmetry, #leadershipvalues, #leading-people, #leadingorganizations, #selfdevelopment, #strategy, #vision

The Reflection Series Part 5: What Does it Mean to Live and Love a Communicative Life

A 3-minute Reflection on How Communication Shapes Our Daily Experience

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Well, I just finished, The Reflection Series Part 4: What Do Coaching, Communication, and Insight Have in Common?, and I’ve continued to think both about relationships and communication. Why?

Because they both shape so much of our daily experience. In this 3-minute reflection, we will take a look at communication first, and then? Maybe relationships next time.

Right, so let’s define communication real quick.

communication

noun /kəˌmjuːnɪˈkeɪʃn/ /kəˌmjuːnɪˈkeɪʃn/

[uncountable] the activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information

[uncountable](also communications [plural])methods of sending information, especially phones, radio, computers, etc. or roads and railways

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go. Now, let’s unpack this a little.

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Expressing Ideas and Feelings

Self-expression is one of the most empowering experiences. Being able to feel and say what is needed. Important. Often, people hold back, as I once did, for the sake of “not rocking the boat,” or fear of reprisal. The issue?

When we hold back how we feel and what we think, we are actually still continuing to communicate those feelings and thoughts. Though, because we’ve been holding back, they will come out in a less than productive communicative way.

Today I find it better to express the truth about how I feel and what I think, even when, and, maybe, most importantly when, it means how I feel and what I think may spur a difficult conversation. It is really okay, and is needed.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Sending Information

We communicate more about how we feel and how we think nonverbally than we do verbally. That is the truth. Which is why it is so important to be transparent with ourselves, first, about how we feel, and what we think, and then to communicate that to those we care about.

Again, if we choose to not communicate how we feel and what we think, we will still communicate these feelings and thoughts through nonverbal communication.

Whether that is an skance glance or gesture, or some other form of nonverbal cue. And? People close to us will pick up on it, even if they are unconcious of it, and, yep, will react to it. The issue?

When we lead communicative experiences that are healthy and transparent, we have the opportunity to create a context that is free of the fear of reprisal, or the inauthentic experience of “not rocking the boat.”

By the way, when we actively try to “not rock the boat,” know that the boat is probably already rocking. And?

It can be settled a bit by being open and communicative about how we feel and what we think.

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Shaping Our Experience

Communication really does shape our experience. As my awareness has grown over the past three years, I am able to notice when my nonverbal cues are picked up on by other people, and, likewise, when I pick up on theirs.

It is an interesting experience, and is one that is ultimately empowering. We have the potential to create contexts that are communicatively healthy once we are aware. Aware of just how important healthy communication is, both verbal and nonverbal.

We all get frustrated, and, yes, even angry sometimes. That happens to us all. It is part of being human.

However, it is important to practice communicating with others when we feel this way; and, to take the time necessary to understand why we are frustrated or angry in the first place.

For, as we know, when we are frustrated or angry, we are not frustrated or angry because of what other people are doing. We are frustrated or angry with how we are thinking and feeling about what other people are doing, or what we are doing, or not doing. It’s always that way.

All communication starts with us. How we communicate with ourselves is the beginning for how we ultimately communicate with others. And?

When we take the time to communicate with ourselves, which includes listening, we understand ourselves that much better; and, we also understand the people we love and care about that much better too.

And, for me? That’s what it means to live and love a communicative life. It’s about taking the time to practice communication. Practice communicating with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. It is quite lovely.

#communication, #emotionalintelligence, #expressinghowwefeel, #expressinghowwethink, #feelingandthinking, #healthycommunication, #mindfulness, #nonverbalcues, #self-expression, #selfdevelopment, #thoughtsandfeelings

The Reflection Series Part 4: What Do Coaching, Communication, and Insight Have in Common?

A 3-minute Reflection on Leadership and Systems Thinking

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What do you think that coaching, communication, and insight have in common? Hm. Not sure?

Or, maybe, you’re thinking it’s that they’re interactive, and that’s what they have in common, and, yep, that is true. Yet there is one more. Yep.

They are all part of a single system. Each one, coaching, communication, and insight, all of them, is a piece of a larger whole. Let’s take a look at these pieces so we can see the whole. Ready? Here we go.

Creating Coaching

Alright, I’ve written about coaching before, and, even wrote about a developed model that works pretty well. Yet, guess what? Yep. That model has iterated. Today? Here’s what it looks like now.

  1. Creating Safety
  2. Current Reality
  3. Future Reality
  4. Define the Gap
  5. Create Next Actions
  6. Create Safety

Yep, it is a complete system. And, yes, it is a system within a system. Meaning, that coaching is, yes, one piece in an overall system, and, yep, you begin with safety and end with it. Every time. Why?

Because creating safety for people is one of the most important aspects of developing high-functioning teams. Seriously. Watch.

What does it take to have a high-functioning team? Any ideas? Yep. Here we go.

  1. Trust
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Vulnerability
  4. Innovation
  5. Execution

There’s five. And, to have those five? Yep. Safety. Always.

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Creating Communication

In order to have high-quality coaching conversations, good communication must also be present. And, what, pray, are the components of good communication. Here are a few.

  1. Listen
  2. Be present
  3. Tell your truth
  4. Reciprocity

Sounds simple, yes? Well, it is, and yet, is a paradox, like most things in life. Why? Because it takes practice, and a commitment to persevere. You will make mistakes. And?

That’s okay. It’s part of it.

If we think that good communication feels good all the time, or looks one way or another, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Most of my favorite conversations today are loaded with work, for both people.

Here are a few more important concepts to develop good communication.

  1. Patience
  2. Grace
  3. Compassion
  4. Understanding

It takes work and time. Yet, when you practice listening and being present, all kinds of wondrous things happen. Really.

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Creating Insight

Ah, yes, one of my favorite topics. Insight. Beautiful.

Well, what’s the deal with insight anyway? When we typically think about insight, we think about that moment of clarity where we learn something we’d not considered before. Right? Yep.

However, insight can come in many forms. Seriously. Here are a few.

  1. Self
  2. One-on-One
  3. Team
  4. Organization
  5. Community

Yep. Insights are created through collaboration, whether that is through collaboration with yourself, yes, that’s true, or with another individual or team member, or with the entire team, organization, or community.

Insights are a product of high-quality communicative contexts that are safe. Period.

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A Single System

Alright, so what does creating coaching, good communication, and insight have to do with each other? Yep, you got it.

They are all a part of the relationship system. First, the relationships we have with ourselves, then, the team, organization, and community. True.

And, the relationship system is applicable in all social contexts. Meaning, you can substitute family with the team in the aforementioned example, and you have a whole and complete system for the family. Same.

There we go. That’s my 3-minute reflection on the relationships system, and why considering these pieces as connected and a part of a larger whole is very important for leaders, and, well, for everyone. Really.

In fact, one could argue, as I would, that your very relationships depend on it. Truth. Phew. That was fun.

#coaching, #communication, #insight, #interactions, #leadership, #relationshsipsystem, #selfdevelopment

The Reflection Series Part 1: What Does it Mean to Be Alive?

A 3-Minute Reflection on Being Alive and Experiencing Aliveness

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It’s interesting to title a post as a reflection series, as every post and/or article that I write is a reflection. Really. All of them. A reflection of myself and the world. Yep. And?

Well, I wanted a place to create a similar dialogue, conversation, and discussion with you in a shorter format. Yes, yes, it’s true. I do tend to write, and write, and sometimes, even write more. My challenge, then? Good question.

My challenge in this series will be to connect with you similarly , yet to do so in under 3-minutes. The next question? Yep, that’s it. Can he do it?

Don’t know. Yet, I do know that I’ll have fun finding out. Ready? Alright, here we go.

A 3-Minute Reflection on Alive and Aliveness

What does being alive really mean? I mean, really? Have you ever pondered what it means to be alive, to know your alive, to really feel alive, and the resulting aliveness, if you will? Hm.

As you reflect upon those questions, let’s take a look at what I see.

When I was growing up, being alive simply meant not being dead. Really. You were alive, that’s all. You breathed in and out, and you did this or that, whatever this or that was, and you lived your life. Yep.

Yet, as I’ve aged, and developed, I’ve come to think about being alive differently. Being alive, or experiencing aliveness, is different from simply accepting, passively, that you are alive, as in my aforementioned example.

Aliveness, for me, is an active activity. Yep, I did just use active and activity back to back.

Right, so being alive is about feeling, loving, working, being, and doing, and doing so intentionally. Creating our intention to live the fullest life possible, whatever that looks like to you, or me, or anyone for that matter.

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There is an important distinction here. Let’s spell it out more clearly.

  • Passively alive – reality happens to me.
  • Active aliveness – I create my reality.

A very important distinction. Why?

Because when we believe that reality happens to us, our locus of control, stay with me, is pointed outward; whereas, when we believe that we create our reality, or locus of control is pointed inward. Very important distinction.

Locus of control? Yep, here we go.

People with internal locus of control tend to expect reinforcements (1) to be the consequences of their own efforts or behavior, whereas people with external locus of control expect them to be the consequences of chance, luck, fate, or the actions of powerful others.

Oxford Reference

There we go.

Basically, locus of control is how we think about the world, and our place in it. Do we believe that we create our life, or is the creation of our life in the hands of someone else.

Now, there are two more important distinctions here. Ready? Here we go.

  1. Locus of control is not a binary – meaning that how people view their reality, and the creation of it, lives on a continuum.
  2. Locus of control is psychological and also philosophical – we will look at the former in this post, and, maybe, the latter in a later one.

Now, when we believe that we create our reality, that our actions cause change in the world, change for us, and change for others; we have an internal locus of control. And?

Photo by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash

And, if we regularly act on this internal locus of control, creating the life we want to live, one action at a time, we will experience more aliveness.

More feeling, more joy, more of, well, everything; and, this moreness in this example, if you will, does also include sadness. Why?

Because we are living more, doing more, creating more, risking more, loving more. Well, doing everything more, so it does follow that we will experience more joy, and also more sadness. It works that way.

Yet, we need not think about experiencing more sadness as a problem or an issue. It’s not. It is beautiful, because we are creating and living out our own authentic life. Fun.

The point?

Remembering that we are the creators of our experience, and, thus, our life.

We create our life, feel our life, and live our life via our intention. An intention about the aliveness we want to experience, which we create in every moment of every day. Now, and, now, and now. Just like that.

Phew. Did I make it?

Be wellness. Be aliveness.

#activealiveness, #alive, #aliveness, #creatingyourlife, #creatingyourreality, #experiencingaliveness, #externallocusofcontrol, #humandevelopment, #internallocusofcontrol, #mindfulness, #psychology, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement