5 signs that you are not showing up as your authentic self.

My purpose is to help people connect with their true nature and express it consciously in their life and work. It is my belief that we are naturally creative, compassionate, calm, committed, and capable. If you don’t experience these qualities, there’s nothing wrong with you; you are simply disconnected from your true nature.

Indicators that you’re not showing up as your authentic self:

  1. Overaccommodation. (Pleasing, permissive or indulgent.) While generosity is an obvious strength, when you’re nice all the time, you can bury a lot of feelings. Resentments, depression, irritation, impatience, irritability, insecurity, and psychosomatic illnesses can result from suppressed emotions.
  2. Disengagement. (Blaming, complaining, resisting, shutting down, passive resistance, gossiping, quit and stay.) This occurs when lacking the courage to bring yourself whole-heartedly to your work or relationships.
  3. Transaction tyranny. (Allowing the urgent demands of others to crowd out what matters most.) A close relative to overaccommodation, transaction tyranny means saying yes to everyone and everything, losing yourself in the demands of your inbox, and forgetting to attend to your most important contribution. No one wants written on their headstone, “They got all their emails returned.”
  4. Dishonesty. (Unwilling to face the truth about their life.) Unhappy with their life and hating their job, they unload their misery on people around them. Dishonesty isn’t just about stealing, lying, or fraud. It’s also about being dishonest with yourself.
  5. “Bad” Tired. (Inauthentic exhaustion.) There are two kinds of tired: “good” tired, and “bad” tired. Good tired comes from working hard and getting fulfillment from your contribution. “Bad” tired means you are depleted from taking care of the needs of others at the expense of your true self. You never fully recover from “bad” tired until you live in closer alignment with your true nature – a place that fills you rather than depletes you.

For those interested in discovering your authentic leadership, we still have a few seats available at our academy. I hope you will join us. Check us out at: https://lnkd.in/gMi2euzp

Kids, Smart Phones, and Mental Health

If you are a parent or caregiver of a child, you will, in one way or another, deal with issues of devices, technology, and the internet. For years I have been concerned about the impact of technology on mental health, particularly on young people and it’s time for me to speak up.

To hear what researchers now know about the dangers of giving a smartphone to a child before they’re ready, I recommend Cal Newport’s podcast https://lnkd.in/gVx2SdpD

Cal is an MIT-trained computer science professor at Georgetown University who writes about the intersections of technology, work, and the quest to find depth in an increasingly distracted world. This podcast provides a thorough history of the research on technology and kids, including how it started, evolved, adjusted to criticism, and, over the last few years, ultimately coalesced around a rough consensus.

A few interesting observations that Cal uncovered:

  • 2012 was a tipping point for technology and mental health. Since then, we have seen a significant rise in depression and anxiety among young people. 2012 was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.
  • Researchers, after wrestling with the issue now for more than ten years, generally agree it is not safe to give a child unsupervised access to the internet until they are at least 16.
  • Forget about technology monitoring your child’s internet use. Kids are smart enough to find a way around security apps.
  • If you want your child to use a phone to communicate with you, give them a phone with no access to the internet.

Like Cal, I’m convinced that our culture and subsequent legislation will eventually adapt to the now undisputed research.

We don’t allow children to gamble or buy cigarettes or alcohol. Why do we allow them to have unsupervised access to the internet? Ten years from now, there won’t be much debate about what’s appropriate when it comes to kids and these technologies. Until then, however, we’re navigating this territory on our own, so the more we know, the better off we’ll be.

If you want to learn more about my approach to child raising, I hope you’ll join me in this month’s Complimentary Webinar on raising accountable kids. Everyone who attends the webinar will receive a complimentary pdf of “Raising Accountable Children .”https://lnkd.in/d37Prt4a

Are you “performing” or “expressing”?

After being on the road the past two weeks, I’m reminded that I have some incredible clients and when I’m working with them, I inevitably learn as much as I teach.

One of my insights this past few days was the difference between “performing” and “expressing.”

One audience I was very familiar with. I had been in front of this organization many times, and the group of leaders who knew me well were introducing me to a new division of the company. They built me up to those who hadn’t heard me before and told everyone to expect “amazing things” from my presentation.

With my ego bolstered, I stood up on stage, proudly determined I was going to exceed expectations and went into a “performance” mode for my presentation. I did well, delivered a good message, and inspired the audience.

But I’m not sure I had the same kind of impact there that I did the next day with an entirely difference audience. In that presentation I acknowledged (within myself) my nervousness and fear of failure, that otherwise would have been covered up with false pride, went into my heart, and “expressed” my message – with what I felt was a deeper connection, impact, and authentic power.

I find it interesting that we call feedback in the workplace a “performance” review. What if we called it an “expression” review? What if we focused more on expression and less on performance? What if we concentrated as much on our “to be” list as we do on our “to do” list? While performance has a place, what if we realized that our most powerful impact comes from our presence, not our performance?

A Tribute To My Mother

I found this quote in my mother’s journal: “Every parent, no matter how hard they try, will be both a blessing and a curse to their children. My hope is that my children will appreciate the blessing, if not immediately, then later in life, and perhaps more importantly, my hope is that they take the curse and, like an oyster irritated by a grain of sand, over time, use it as a catalyst to build layers of character and understanding—thus producing a pearl.”

I appreciate the blessings. As for the curses, the pearls take a little more time.

Here are some things I learned from my mother:

  1. We are meaning-making organisms. What I learned from my mother is based on my own perception – often independent of what she intended to teach me.
  2. Growth lies outside your comfort zone. Take risks and trust yourself in the midst of the unknown.
  3. Value learning. Read and study good books. Wisdom – as distinct from knowledge – is irreplaceable.
  4. Dive deeply into the experience of living. The deeper we dive the more beauty we find.
  5. Embrace uncertainty. Change and uncertainty are essential ingredients of life. By embracing uncertainty, you find security.
  6. Embracing grief opens the door to joy. My mother learned this through many losses in her life, including the death of two husbands and a still-born baby.
  7. All blame is a waste of time. Maturity doesn’t come with age. It comes with the acceptance of responsibility.
  8. Check your rage at the door. Acted out anger doesn’t build safety, trust, or connection.
  9. Don’t ask what the world can give you. Ask, instead, what you can give the world.
  10. Make your gratitude bigger than your circumstances.

RAISING ACCOUNTABLE KIDS: It’s About Principles, Not Perfection

You can observe a lot by watching. – Yogi Berra
When grandparenting you aren’t in the thick of the responsibilities that come with raising kids, so you have a bit of time to observe. So, as a grandparent, here’s three observations I have about the state of child raising these days:
  • There’s no more important leadership responsibility than within the walls of our home. The greatest success lies in building strong character in our young people that will enable them to be contributing citizens of the world.
  • We’ve never been more aware of the needs of our children because we have access to extensive information on child development, the impacts of trauma on brain functioning, mental health, the importance of attachment, emotional regulation, and self-esteem and well-being.
  • We are now extremely anxious about how we’re doing as a parent and how our kids are going to turn out. And all the anxiety is spilling over onto our children. Paradoxically, the more we worry about our kids, the more anxious they become. Anxious parents raise anxious kids. They have enough of their own anxiety without us contributing to it.
For those who have assumed the vital and arduous work of leading young people, here are four strategies to consider:
  1. Don’t make life too easy for your kids. On the wall of my daughter’s high school English class was a quote by Van Jones, the political commentator: I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different. I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots and learn how to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym. In other words, making the space within the walls of our homes and our schools safe doesn’t mean rescuing our children from the challenges of life. Just as the struggle to break through the cocoon builds the strength of the butterfly’s wings, if we want our children to fly one day, they must struggle and develop strong wings. Don’t raise your children to be happy. Raise your children to be strong. Strength comes when our kids know they are not alone. We are right beside them, in their corner. Loving without rescuing. Being there without doing for them what they can do for themselves. With strength, happiness will follow.
  2. Don’t be afraid to parent. Saying no is not abuse. Our children do not need us to be their friend. Their friends are their peer group. What our children need is a parent. There’s a big difference between pleasing your kids and loving your kids. Pleasing is about giving them what they want so they will be happy and like you. Pleasing comes from insecurity. Loving them is giving them what they need – and what they need may very well be different than what they think they need or what their friends have. Children are not born with accountability – the ability to be counted on; they have to learn it. And they learn it, in part, when they can count on the caregivers in their life. If you are a parent, your kids are counting on you to be one. Let’s work at being secure enough with ourselves that we don’t depend on our kids for our self-worth. It’s not their job.
  3. Set clear boundaries around digital media. Digital media was originally developed for two reasons: information and communication. When it exceeds its function and is used, like any product or substance, to meet our emotional needs or to escape from our life it becomes addictive. Monitoring our own use and consciously and carefully supervising the use of devices with our kids is now an integral part of parenting. You can’t leave it to chance.
  4. Relax. You don’t have to get it perfectly. I remember a time when our youngest daughter wanted to change her curfew to go to a friend’s party. The easy road would have been a quick “yes” or a quick “no.” Instead, we spent the better part of a week negotiating with her and struggling to do the right thing. I don’t know, to this day, if we did the right thing. What I do know is that my daughter knows she was loved. She knows she was loved because she knows that we invested in the relationship. As parents and caregivers of children, we never really know what “right” is. There’s no formula. The goal is not necessarily to be a better parent. The goal is to find joy on the journey. And finding the joy will make us a better parent.
In Blackfoot culture, turtles are considered to be a symbol of creation and motherhood and embody the concept that is similar to “Mother Earth” in English. To the Blackfoot, the turtle is patient, wise, knowledgeable, and long-lived. The Blackfoot saying Iikakimat mookakiit means be wise and preserve and can be used to describe the turtle’s characteristics. And these characteristics fit well into my own approach and philosophy of raising accountable kids: be patient, wise, a good role model and the kids will be alright.

The best leaders are the ones who have the courage to face the demands of reality.

When Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ingka Group/IKEA, was asked to take over management of IKEA China, the operation required significant change to be successful and sustainable. He would have to close offices and support many employees to find new employment. Before accepting such a difficult restructuring, he asked himself an important question: “Do I have the courage and stamina to do this?”

An interminable conundrum for leaders is how to do the hard things that come with the responsibility of leadership while remaining a good human being. Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter, in a recent HBR article https://lnkd.in/gvztwTKT argued that the binary choice between being a good person or being a tough, effective leader was a false dichotomy. Their thoughtful article builds a good case for managing the conundrum through the development of two key leadership ingredients – wisdom and compassion.

While being human and making hard leadership decisions may not be mutually exclusive, it is naïve to think that you can avoid the struggle. The best leaders are the ones who have the courage to face the demands of reality. They wrestle with the tough decisions, determined to integrate humanity into their leadership and their commitment to ensuring results. And they do it imperfectly.

Like life itself, leadership is an imperfect journey. We don’t always get it right. Sometimes we miss the mark. Our commitment to results can override our compassion. Alternatively, our honest concern for individuals can compromise the tough decisions we have to make for the long-term greater good. And then, at those rare times, we discover that doing the hard things becomes the most human thing to do.

If we stay with the struggle and accept our imperfection as our leadership journey unfolds, we can stay real and earn the credibility it takes to build a great organization and make a difference in the world.