It starts with you.

“When I started coming, I thought I’d be learning how to lead other people, but I’ve realized it’s about what’s in here.” And she pointed to her heart.
That’s a comment I got a few weeks ago from one of the women who comes to the Quiet Leadership Meetup I’ve been hosting. And that’s exactly it: Leadership starts on the inside.

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Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk (via Flickr)

Finding the Leader within is all about healing, acceptance, and claiming.

Whether you are a quiet leader or not, leadership is an inside job. To find your voice, lead with purpose, and compel others to follow you, you have to know yourself… from your gremlins to your superpowers.

A natural leader is someone who accepts themselves as they are and brings the best they can forward. It’s not about looking like anyone else or doing things a certain way. The most compelling leaders are the ones who show you who they are (whether quirky, edgy, funny, arrogant, humble, or whatever).

Natural leaders aren’t always born that way.

It takes practice and commitment to be who you really are.

It starts with letting go of needing to be perfect or live up to someone’s expectations, and embracing the beautiful human being that you are right now today. Not after you lose ten pounds or make $100K or finally write that book.

Healing and facing your fears is scary business. But the only way is through, so be sure to pack some courage for the journey. And know that you are worth it.

The more you believe in you, the more others will too.

The thing that matters is letting the spark inside of you grow into a flame and then a fire. The brighter it burns, the more lives you can light up. And isn’t that what we all want to do?

Whether your title is CEO, bus driver, or mom. Whether you have a title or not. A title does not make you a leader. Being yourself authentically and touching other people… that makes you a leader.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would it be like to be more of yourself?

(Psst… I’m working on a new course to help you discover and sustain that “You-ness”. Find out more here >>)

What is Quiet Leadership?

600_413446772At the end of August 2014, I created the Quiet Leadership Meetup group.
I didn’t really think anyone would be interested. And my gremlin really didn’t think anyone would join.
But I had a feeling that there was a conversation that needed to happen with introverts and HSPs about their impact in the world. So I took a chance.

What do you picture when you think of a leader?

My guess is it is close to the stereotyped version, which is some guy who is:

  • Bold, brash, and energetic
  • Has no problem stirring up crowds of people
  • Somehow larger than life
  • Most likely an extrovert
  • Quite possibly kind of stern or serious or authoritative looking

But that only describes one kind of leader. There are lots of leaders who move nations gently, grab people by the heartstrings through a look, or gather a following through the depth of their belief (not the loudness of their voice).

And that doesn’t even begin to cover all of the ways that leaders and leadership can show up.

What is Quiet Leadership?

From the description of the Quiet Leadership Meetup group:

This group is for introverted and highly sensitive people who believe they have something to do in their life (that is, they have a purpose or are searching for meaning). It is for people who want to make a difference. It is for people who know (or want to learn) that leadership has nothing to do with being the loudest or flashiest person in the room, and everything to do with why you’re here.

Leader – someone who knows their purpose and creates something from that that impacts their world.

That may sound lofty, ambitious, or “too big”, but you are already making an impact in your life and your world. The question is really what impact are your creating? Leaders know and create with intention.

Quiet leadership is about finding your purpose (what drives you and gives meaning to your life), letting go of the need to fit the stereotypes, and bringing more of yourself authentically forward. Because that’s what’s needed.

Are you a quiet leader?

No one can decide for you. It’s more than being an introvert or HSP, it’s also feeling that call to something more. The desire to make a difference (in your family, your community, or the world).

Four and a half months since starting the Quiet Leadership Meetup group, there are now over 130 members (so I guess my gremlin who thought no one would join was wrong). And one of the comments I hear most often is how reassuring and nurturing it is to be around other people who get them.

We all need community.

If you are a quiet leader and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, come on out and join us. And if you live elsewhere, be sure to sign up for my newsletter because I have some products and online community ideas that I’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks just for you and other quiet leaders like you.

P.S. Foundations is coming soon!

Setting yourself up for success

2014-10-29 12.02.52I have a gremlin that always says, “But it’s just so hard…”. Maybe this gremlin never aged past 15. Or maybe she’s just a whiner. Either way, she sees everything as arduous and pretty near impossible to do.

Like now, the holidays are over and my goals are more or less set for 2015. I know where I’m headed and what I want to feel at the end of this year, but I find that gremlin’s voice cropping up an awful lot this week. “Oh, that will never work. It’s impossible. Where would you even start?”

But things are rarely as hard as I think they are.

And they are almost never as hard as she says they are.

AND… I’ve learned that I can make things much easier if I just plan ahead a little.

We’re not talking about big, detailed plans for the next however-many months. We’re just talking about thinking a little bit ahead (as in what’s the next step?).

Stuff like…

  • Setting out my workout clothes before I go to bed so that when I wake up at 6:30am to go to the gym, I don’t have to think about what to wear or dig through my closet in the dark (because my husband is still asleep). It makes it easier to just get up and go.
  • Cooking a little extra for dinner so I’ll have a healthy lunch tomorrow. This helps me avoid eating what’s easy (which is usually some sort of cheesy-bready-gutbomb).
  • Taking 5 minutes at the end of the work day to write out my ToDo list for tomorrow. This helps me stay on track and when I wake up, I have a general idea of what the day will bring. It’s also a way for me to stay connected to my goals by taking the time to check in… even just for 5 minutes.

These are small things, but it all matters.

How you start your day will affect how you feel all day long. What you eat affects your energy and clarity. Whether you exercise or not. If you take time to prepare for the day, week, month… it all adds up.

Just like skipping workouts and eating whatever is easiest can accumulate into weeks of lazy and pounds of unwanted blah. Making that extra little effort to help things go right can become healthy good habits and a smaller jean size.

This idea of setting yourself up for success works for business and leadership goals as well.

It’s like packing for a road trip. You could just pack a change of clothes and your wallet and hop in the car. But generally, the ride will be more pleasant and easier if you take a few minutes to plan out where you’re headed and maybe grab a few snacks and some tunes.

You don’t have to have every turn memorized, but knowing where you need to turn next is really helpful. The same is true when navigating toward your goals.

So with that in mind, how can you set yourself up for success? (both big and small)?

  • What little shifts can you make in your routine to make it flow more smoothly?
  • What barriers could you lower for yourself?
  • What’s the next thing that needs to happen for your goal, and what can you do now to help it go right?

More ways to not live your best year in 2015

2014-09-21 07.39.44-2As the year draws to an end, I find myself thinking a lot about what possibilities 2015 holds, and why it seems so hard (for me) to accomplish what it is I want to accomplish and make real the things I resolve to do (like running another marathon). Do you ever feel that way?

So last time, I reflected on a few of the things we do that make it hard to succeed with our goals. And now that my Christmas-cookie-induced-brain-fog has lifted, I’ve thought of a couple more.

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.

You know when you get so bogged down in the details of something that you lose sight of what you’re even doing? Or when you get so busy doing the things that are “important” right now that you don’t think about what you might want a month or year or 5 from now?

We all do this at one time or another. Whether it’s eating whatever is available because it’s convenient (forgetting that what you really want is to lose 5 or 10 or 30 pounds), or an obsession with responding to email as they enter your inbox instead of using that time for more fulfilling things (or many other examples I trust I don’t need to list out because you know what you get yourself “busy” with).

This is why it’s important to take time to look at the bigger picture of your life.

What’s important? Where do you want to be in a year or 3 or 5? What lights you up?

Try this: Take out a blank sheet of paper and jot down whatever comes up for you when you consider the following questions:

  • What’s most important to me? (As in, if I’m 95 and never did it, I will regret this)./
  • What do you want your life to look like in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? (There are no wrong answers, and even a blurry picture that evokes feelings is better than not taking a look).
  • What makes me feel alive?

When you have answers for those questions, consider how you want to shape the next bit of your life, whether it’s tomorrow, this month, or this year.

And sometimes we can’t see a single tree because we’re focused on the forest.

This happens to me a lot. I look at the big picture, I know what the dreams and visions are. I know the feelings and the overall plan with major milestones for getting from here to whatever the big picture is. But in the day-to-day of life, I lose sight of what needs to happen.

This is a problem because if you are only thinking big picture (strategical planning), and forget about the day-to-day (tactical stuff), nothing really gets done. At least not anything related to that big picture.

Chris Brogan says that your day is your week is your month is your year. Which means that what you do today impacts what you get done this week which impacts what you get done this month, etc.

It’s not enough to know the big picture. You also have to know what needs to get done today in order to make the vision real.

Try this: After you have your big picture laid out, take the time to consider what needs to happen along the way. The way I like to do this is to look at my goals for the year and then consider what needs to be done in 6 months in order to be on track. And then look at what needs to be done in 3 months in order to be on track in 6 months. And then 1 month. And then this week. (From there, I do my best to fit in little bits of goal-moving stuff every day… even if it as simple as sending an email to someone).

It’s the little things we do everyday that add up to the bigger goals.

At the end of the day, we need to do both kinds of planning: big picture (strategic) and front-line, day-to-day (tactical). If we are missing one, we are missing both.

How do you make sure you get done what is most important?

How not to live your best year in 2015

2014-04-11 04.47.56I’ve seen loads of “Live Your Best Year Yet” videos, blog posts, free workbooks, and paid programs coming across my radar these last few weeks.

‘Tis the season for setting resolutions, goals, and intentions. But with the abysmal success rate most people seem to have sticking to their resolutions and goals, I can’t help wondering, why do we do it?

It’s just what people do at the end of the year.

So of course I do it, and I’m guessing you do too. But how many times have you ended the year only to look back at the goals you set and feel disappointed? Like you failed? Like you need to stuff your face with Christmas cookies to help you forget about all the things you didn’t do (once again) this year?

Yeah, me too.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are a few ways that we set ourselves up to fail.

  1. We write our goal or intention in a notebook somewhere and then don’t look at it again.
    Let’s face it, when the rubber meets the road, and life is running at full steam, it’s really easy to forget about that thing you wrote on a page in that notebook that one time in December. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a cliche for a reason.
    Try this instead: Write your intentions and goals on a post-it note that you see everyday. Alternatively, write your goals at the top of the page when you make your daily ToDo list. Either way, remember that to make anything stick, you need to keep it front and center.
     
  2. We pick things we think we should do, not things we want to do.

    I used to work for a company that, when it came time to fill in my self-evaluation (which included a space for my personal career goals), would ask me to set personal goals that would benefit the team. Huh?

    So, ever the good girl I would set the goals I thought I should set because that was what was expected from me. Turns out I was pretty good at making stuff up that sounded really good on paper. Too bad most of that paper got recycled.

    When you set goals out of expectations or “shoulds”, your heart isn’t in it. And if your heart isn’t in it, you won’t have much real motivation to do it (and it’s really just a waste of your energy). These goals feel like a burden instead of inspirational — which is really what this time of year is about.

    Try this instead: Ask yourself what you want to feel at the end of next year? What would make you feel more alive?

  3. We don’t know why our goals or intentions are important to us.

    Anything that we actually want to make happen in our life and in our world (goals, intentions, wishes, dreams, resolutions, whatever) need to be connected to our values, purpose, mission, and/or our why.

    When that connection is missing, something deep inside of us doesn’t really believe that this goal is worth our time. Or we don’t believe it’s doable. Or we don’t believe that it will make a difference. The bottom line is that without grounding it in what matters, we don’t believe in our goal, and it just floats away untethered.

    Try this instead: If you have already identified your purpose, values, mission, or your why, take the time to connect the dots between these guiding principles and the goals and intentions you set for the new year.

    If you haven’t already identified these things, you can start now. Here’s a shortcut: Take a look at your goal and ask yourself what’s important about it? Notice how you feel. You’re looking for what feels right more than what makes logical sense. Sit with it and trust your inner compass.

How do you keep yourself on track with your goals and intentions?

relentless

2014-07-27 10.27.18On a Sunday morning in June, I listened to Chris Brogran’s Owner Mind podcast while I peeled lemons for limoncello. As I enjoyed the Meyer lemony smells all over my kitchen and hands, Chris interviewed Tim Grover about his book Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable. I was inspired so much that I bought the book that same day, and finished it a couple of days later.

Now, I’ll say this: I am a book junkie. I’m always reading something… actually, I’ve always got at least 4 books going (1 audiobook for in the car, 1 fiction for before bed, and usually 2 nonfiction books related to leadership, productivity, psychology, or nutrition). And my list of books that I want to read is really long and always growing. So it is rare for me to immediately buy a book and have it move to the front of the line.

But when I started skimming the introduction of Relentless, I couldn’t stop. If it weren’t for work and silly stuff like that, I would have read it in one sitting. I loved the anecdotes about Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, and Kobe Bryant. But even more than that, it was an inspiring kick in the pants to stop dragging my feet and be relentlessly me.

As a leader. As someone who wants more from life. As someone with a purpose.

Why you should read Relentless

Tim Grover doesn’t mince words. He’s direct and honest (he also drops a few f-bombs). And while I don’t always agree with some of the details, his underlying message is spot on: “In order to have what you really want, you must first be who you really are.”

Not the nice girl who makes other people happy.
Not the gold-star chaser.
Not the unassuming wallflower who moves out of the way so others can shine.

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It’s not about making other people happy. It’s about finding that inner strength, the mental toughness, the drive to succeed. And in a world that wants you to be like everyone else, we all need to be reminded once in a while that it’s being completely who you are that makes you great.

You are made for something more than watching other people live their lives (Real Housewives, anyone?). Whether that is to bring beauty into the world, grow children into contributing adults, or bring about world peace.

No one else can tell you what your purpose is, it’s got to come from inside of you (although if you need help putting your purpose into words, I can help with that). And if you want a little nudge into thinking like the unstoppable leader you are, give Relentless a read.

2014-08-23 14.08.48P.S. Here is the finished limoncello (and in case you’re interested, I used this recipe).


Photo Credit: Lemons & limoncello are mine. Graffiti photo: Eddie via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

3 Keys to an Ease-filled Holiday

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I was at Target yesterday and guess what I found?
The holiday frenzy has already begun.

It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, people. Do we really need to be so intense in the parking lot and rushing through the store already?

This happens every year. And every year I’m surprised.

Not because it’s new, but because I’ve designed a different kind of holiday season for myself over the last 10 years. And I kind of forget that there is a frenetic holiday vortex out there waiting to suck me in.

So today I thought I’d share with you a few things that have helped me create spaciousness around the busiest time of the year in hopes that you can take these nuggets and create a little peace in your life too. Starting today.
Continue reading “3 Keys to an Ease-filled Holiday”

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for HSPs

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I hate the holidays.

I hate how Christmas decorations show up before Halloween and Jingle Bell Rock can be heard on November 1st. And what is the deal with the Starbucks red cups anyway? I just don’t get why it’s “a thing”.

But I’m not entirely anti-holiday.

I love gingerbread. And cozy sweaters. Also: presents. Both giving and receiving.

I also really enjoy reading all of the lists of gift ideas (Sew Mama Sew has a fun one every year called Handmade Holidays). I almost never buy things (or make things) from the lists I read, but they inspire me to think outside of my particular box.

So I thought I’d write my own (short) list of gift ideas for the highly sensitive people in your life.

Continue reading “2014 Holiday Gift Guide for HSPs”

Reframing Confidence

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The more I talk with introverts and highly sensitive people, the more I hear a deep desire to feel more confident. And although I did a series on confidence earlier this year, I’m beginning to realize that this confidence building thing isn’t answered with just a few tips and some mental “hacks”.

What’s actually needed is a major reframe.

This doesn’t mean that you have to spend thousands of dollars on a coach (though I’d be happy to talk to you if that’s what you’re looking to do. wink, wink), and it doesn’t mean that you have to move to a new city and start a new life. Or whatever other drastic, scary thing might be your go-to nightmare scenario when words like major and reframe are thrown at you.

So, what does a major reframe look like?

Continue reading “Reframing Confidence”

Are you an HSP?

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You just spent a day at Disneyland with your family, getting lost in the throngs of people, noises, lights, and smells. Your kids are ready to ride Space Mountain again, but all you want to do is go find a dark, quiet place to hide out for a while.

If that sounds familiar, you might be a highly sensitive person.

In 1996, Dr. Elaine Aron published her groundbreaking book, The Highly Sensitive Person, in which she described what an HSP is, reassured us that it was okay to be one, and gave us permission to take better care of ourselves.

Before I read The Highly Sensitive Person when I was 26 years old, I thought there was something wrong with me that only a lifetime of therapy (and maybe drugs) would be able to fix. I felt neurotic, imbalanced, and constantly frazzled.

But Elaine Aron taught me it’s okay to be me… a highly sensitive person.
Continue reading “Are you an HSP?”