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Post image for How You Handle Anything Is Everything

On Wednesday my mother had a mastectomy.

Knowing her recovery process would be long and somewhat lonely, I invited her to my house for a bit of post-surgery peace and quiet.

By Wednesday evening, everything was going according to plan.

The operation went well.

The spare room was ready with new sheets and a big, puffy comforter.

Mom was smiling.

Then, yesterday morning at 8:30am, three construction workers showed up to build a deck on our property.

It’s a long and irrelevant story as to why they started this project at the precise moment my mom was planning to rest but, needless to say, the timing was poor.

What was supposed to be a day of lounging comfortably in bed turned into a day of buzzsaws, hammering, and drills.

This is life, right? Sometimes it just doesn’t unfold the way we think it will.  

So then the question becomes: What now?

Certainly in the grand scheme of problems, the fact that my mom’s recovery has not been peaceful is a “little” challenge, but I believe how we handle the “little” challenges prepares us for how we handle the “big” ones.

Patience is a muscle. The more you flex it, the stronger it becomes.

So instead of getting annoyed at the noise or sending the crew away, mom and I just giggle and get through it.

And, deep down, we both know there’s a lesson in this.

Because in the months ahead when her chemo begins, no one – including me – will be able to “bring her peace.”

She will have to find it alone amid the chaos of her situation.

Like we all do.

What I love about mindfulness is that it teaches us to deal with things as they are, not as we hoped they would be.

Of course, none of this is as we hoped it would be, but it is what it is.

The gift is learning to giggle through it.

 

 

 

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Post image for 108 Ways To Find Sanity FAST

This week I hosted a webinar for a group of 1,000 executives.

Since many were new to mindful leadership, I decided to go heavy on the self-awareness piece, which is the heart and soul of this practice.

Naturally, this meant I was hitting them with a lot of questions.

A lot.

The wisdom of mindfulness doesn’t come from the questions we ask others, but from those we ask ourselves.

It’s a journey of replacing compulsion with compassion that’s designed to last a lifetime.

I had 45 minutes.

Even so…I was thrilled that we were able to cover a ton of ground and get through the “secret sauce” questions of truly mindful leaders, e.g.

What am I noticing right now?

Can I make space for it?

Where is my attention?

Are these thoughts true?

Are these thoughts useful?

What is the next right action?

I knew this process can be overwhelming at first, but I didn’t realize how much until after the webinar when I received an inbox full of messages from listeners essentially saying the same thing:

“I get the concept of mindfulness but I don’t have time to go through this much self-reflection in the moment, especially when I feel frustrated or personally attacked. How do I get centered FAST?”

I get it – and I have a resource for you.

Enter Gabrielle Bernstein.

Gabby has been a tremendous influence in my life, albeit one I’ve never shared here because her work is spiritual and I haven’t “gone there” on this blog.

Until now, that is.

Because anyone looking for actionable, tangible ways to immediately snap out of a negative head spiral and return to a place of inner stillness and embodied power should know about Gabby and her new book Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Gabrielle recently and, in this 13-minute video, she shares the importance of “restoring your sanity” on a moment-by-moment basis as well as the importance of focusing on your words and your presence at work.

She also shares my new favorite way to find peace in less than 5 seconds – which is exactly how long it will take you to fall in love with her too. Enjoy. Xo

P.S. If you have trouble seeing this video, please click here to watch.

P.S.S. I’m giving away three copies of Miracles Now to readers of this blog. All you have to do is leave your favorite takeaway from the interview in the comments and I’ll pick the winners based on – you guessed it – self-refection. Good luck!

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Post image for The Cult of Personalities

In 2011 I went to a conference where I was hoping to snag an interview with one of the keynote speakers.

For reasons that will become obvious in a moment, I won’t give you her name but – suffice it to say – you would definitely know her work.

On the day of the event itself, I picked out my best suit, grabbed my best video camera, and came armed with my best plan.

Step one was to buddy-up to the conference organizer and persuade her to introduce me to the speaker before she went onstage.

It worked.

And despite the fact that I was obviously nervous, the speaker was gracious and warm and, best of all, she agreed to chat with me on camera.

So far so good.

I took my seat and proceeded to watch as a true star delivered onstage.

She was confident.

Charming.

Funny.

Everything the brochure said she would be.

Afterwards, I waited around as she signed autographs, took selfies, and – when I was able to catch her attention – I said, “I’ve got our camera set up next door.”

She looked at me somewhat quizzically and replied, “Great. I’ve got a book signing now but we can chat afterwards.”

I walked back in to the room I’d prepared, triple-checking the set-up, reviewing my notes, and pacing like a teenager on prom night.

Then I returned to her book signing and caught her eye from the back of the room.

This time, her glance was different.

It was stern.

Chilly even.

According to the official schedule, she had about five minutes left in her signing but there wasn’t a line, so I purchased a few books as gifts and made my way over to her table.

As I handed them over, I said again, “We’re all set up and I’m ready whenever you are.”

She signed the books and handed them back to me.

“Okay.”

I pretended not to notice her energy had shifted dramatically.

“Excellent,” I smiled. “See you in a minute.”

I walked back to my camera and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After about 10 minutes, I found the conference organizer and asked if she’d seen the speaker.

“She’s left.”

“Left?”

“Yeah, a few minutes ago.”

After some probing – accident? emergency? – it was clear that nothing had gone wrong.

The speaker had simply stood me up.

I’ll never forget how I felt in that moment.

And yet I’m glad it happened because I learned a much more important lesson from her behavior than I could have ever learned from her words.

Namely, I learned that every time you come in contact with another person you are given a choice in the impression you make.

Here’s a hint: Authenticity is everything.

People will root for you, stand up for you – even forgive you – time and time again if they know you genuinely care.

And if you’re faking, well, we know that too.

Stephen Covey geniusly called this the “character ethic” versus the “personality ethic.” In other words, after combing through more than 100 years of success literature, he discovered the proverbial crack in the foundation of leadership:

Somewhere along the way, we started to celebrate our personalities more than our principles.  

In Covey’s words, success became a shell game of “appearing to be” rather than “actually being.”

Sound familiar?

It should because we see it all around us.

I see it these days every time I catch a glimpse of a brochure or a webpage touting that keynote speaker.

I know she has long forgotten about our meeting – but I haven’t.

And, frankly, I’m so grateful for it.

Because I learned that even “little” moments are opportunities to figuratively (and literally) show up.

The question is, do we?

 

P.S. To listen to Stephen Covey explain the difference between character and personality ethic, check out this video. Well worth the eight minutes. 

 

 

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